Two Local Officers Fired After Excessive Force Investigation

By: Rachel Cox Email
By: Rachel Cox Email

TEMPLE (November 21, 2013) Temple Police Chief Gary Smith has fired two officers after an internal investigation of allegations they used excessive force in the arrest of a teenager who suffered a broken collarbone during the incident.

The names of the officers weren’t immediately released during the day Thursday, but Thursday evening the city identified them as Daniel Amaya and Jeremy Bales.

Both officers are appealing the decision and the city said in a brief press release the department won’t be able to respond to questions about the decision to fire them until the appeals process has been completed.

Police received the complaint on May 22 from Elsa Martinez, whose teenage son was arrested at around 8:45 p.m. on May 18 on South 31st Street.

She and her son told News 10 the teen was sitting in a car in the Temple Walmart parking lot waiting for his girlfriend to come out of the store when he noticed someone getting arrested near the front of the business.

When he went to check it out one of the officers thought he was involved, he said.

The teen said he was slammed to the ground, held down and choked after officers tried to handcuff him.

He said things got physical again when the officers took him inside the store near an office and he spit on the floor.

Elsa Martinez said after the incident she took her son to the emergency room because she'd noticed a lump on his collarbone.

Martinez said doctors at the Scott & White Emergency Room told her he had a broken clavicle.

The Bell County Grand Jury reviewed the incident in October and declined to indict the officers.

But in a letter to Elsa Martinez dated Tuesday, Smith said the internal investigation had been completed and that he determined there were violations of the department’s rules and regulations.

"Two officers have been indefinitely suspended from the department. An indefinite suspension is the civil service equivalent to a termination. It is the strongest administrative action that I can take," Smith wrote.

The letter confirmed that the two the officers have appealed the decision.

“On behalf of the Temple Police Department, and myself, I can also offer an apology for the conduct of the former officers. Their actions in this matter is neither condoned nor representative of the policies, protocols or training of the Department,” Smith wrote.

In a letter Thursday, Kurt Glass, an attorney for the Martinez family, said he and family respected Smith for his actions, but said they weren’t pleased with the response of the Bell County District Attorney’s Office.

"Unfortunately, I am unable to be as complimentary to our District Attorney, Henry Garza. Mr. Garza's office failed to successfully indict the officers involved. Mr. Garza's office is unable to prevent further wrong things of this nature and Mr. Garza utterly failed in making anything right for Lorenzo and his family," Glass wrote.

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