HOUSTON – Video of an officer punching a suspect after his arrest is under review by at least two departments. But some civil rights activists already consider it a clear violation.
Air 11 was over the scene Thursday as an officer is seen punching a suspect in the front seat of a unmarked police SUV.
The suspect, identified as Mohmed Ahmed Abu-Shlieba, is handcuffed as two officers walk him to the vehicle. One of them then punches Shlieba in what appears to be his face or throat.
“The law is that officers are only allowed to take the force necessary to affect an arrest,” said attorney Natalia Cornelio with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “In this case, clearly, a punch to the face when somebody’s in handcuffs with hands behind their back being put into a car is absolutely not necessary.”
Abu-Shlieba is accused of leading multiple departments on a chase in excess of 100 miles per hour from The Galleria area all the way to just outside Beaumont. Police say he was driving a stolen Dodge Hellcat.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office made the arrest, then turned Abu-Shlieba over to members of the Gulf Coast Task Force.
One of that agency’s plain-clothed officers appears to have thrown the punch. The officer is also a 10-year employee of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
HCSO has launched an internal investigation.
“The Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Office Task Force has been made aware of video footage taken during the arrest…and is currently reviewing the video,” said a task force spokesman.
“I mean, I hope they take this unlawful behavior seriously,” Cornelio said. “And if not, it’s a problem that extends beyond this one officer.”
The officer has yet to be identified. Cornelio believes the suspect may have grounds to fight back with a lawsuit. He’s facing charges that include evading arrest.