EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A homeless and disabled man said he was assaulted by officers from the El Paso Police Department on Friday afternoon after being reported for dancing.
Manuel Luna, who calls himself “Shorty,” says he heard music outside an East Mills business and felt pressured to move. He started dancing along the sidewalk and parallel parking spots.
“I started dancing with my dog and didn’t think there would be anything wrong,” Luna told KTSM News.
He says parking meter officials ordered him to stop and then called the EPPD when Luna did not comply.
“They beat me,” he says. “My head hurts and they twisted my hand, it’s serious. I don’t know, I just wanted to dance.
Downtown business owners captured footage of the dancing and the violent incident, where you can see Luna dancing with her dog, Ojos. Then, Luna is surrounded by police and forced to the ground.
Video footage shows someone appearing to be an officer in plain clothes – with handcuffs and a handgun visible – stomping on Luna’s foot / ankle.
Luna was rushed to the University Medical Center where he was treated for injuries to his head and body, and was also treated for a seizure he had as a result of the altercation.
Business owners and Luna say this is one of a series of negative encounters between the downtown community and city officials.
Storm Craig, a business owner in East Mills, told KTSM that Luna is cooperating with EPPD agents.
“He was already on his knees with his hands up,” he said.
Craig says he spoke to police, who said parking authorities claimed Luna assaulted them, but was ignored when he told EPPD he had a video footage to the contrary.
Luna says he’s worked to get back on his feet for him and Ojos, and is looking for help finding a transitional living center that will accept them both.
“I didn’t think it was fair of them to do this,” Luna said. “I didn’t do anything wrong to make them do this.”
When asked what kind of support he needed, he said support for his dog.
“I don’t have a car, so I can’t take him for a ride. Maybe if someone could take her for a walk to have her nails cut, ”he said.
A GoFundMe campaign has been created to help Luna and Ojos.
On Saturday afternoon, officials from the El Paso Police Department released the following statement:
A video is circulating on social networks which shows officers overpowering an individual and putting him in handcuffs. The El Paso Police Department is aware of the video and is investigating the incident. No further information will be available as this incident is under investigation.
We will continue to monitor this story closely and provide updates as information and details warrant.
For more information on downtown El Paso, click here; for our full EPPD coverage, click here.
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