SAN ANTONIO – The University of Texas at San Antonio Police Department has moved to terminate one of its officers and has demoted two of its supervisors after uncovering body camera footage of the officer throwing a man to the ground, then handcuffing him outside an off-campus apartment in February.
The Feb. 14 incident was captured on the body camera of Officer Sean Callahan as he and other officers from UTSA and the San Antonio Police Department responded around 11:30 p.m. to a report of an accidental shooting outside an apartment complex in the 15900 block of Chase Hill Boulevard.
(WARNING: Video contains GRAPHIC LANGUAGE)
The 16-minute clip, obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders through an open-records request, shows Callahan and other officers asking residents of the complex if they saw or heard anything about the shooting.
The 21-year-old man whom police believe shot himself was hospitalized but did not suffer serious injuries, according to an SAPD incident report.
A man walking his dog is seen on video telling Callahan and a second officer that a first-floor apartment facing the parking lot is known as a "trap house," a slang term used to describe a house where drugs are sold.
"A bunch of ghettos over there," the man is heard saying on the recording.
"Oh yeah, that's what I'm talking about. (Expletive)-up blinds and everything," Callahan is heard saying on the footage before he knocks on the apartment's door.
A man, later identified as 23-year-old Jonathan Richardson, walks outside and immediately puts his hands up.
The footage shows Callahan grabbing Richardson by the shirt when the man attempts to pull up his pants.
Callahan throws Richardson to the ground after someone inside the apartment shuts the door.
Richardson is handcuffed and forced to sit on a sidewalk as the other people in the apartment are walked outside, lined up in a hallway and questioned about the shooting.
"I understand that I am being aggressive. The reason I'm being aggressive is I don't feel safe. Nobody's in trouble, we're just trying to figure out what's going on," Callahan is heard saying on the video to a man who identifies himself as one of Richardson's roommates.
The people in the apartment told officers that they knew nothing about the shooting, and are released minutes later.
Callahan is heard telling a fellow officer that when Richardson reached down, "I dumped him. And then everybody freaked the (expletive) out."
"I had to sit down and get humiliated in front of my whole apartment because of the color of my skin," said Richardson, who was detained for about 10 minutes before he was released.
Although the footage shows that he is angry after being in handcuffs for several minutes, Richardson said he did not file a complaint against Callahan because he did not believe that the department would take it seriously.
"I don't feel like justice is going to be served because I'm an African-American male," Richardson said.
UTSA confirmed that the incident was not reported to command staff and Callahan failed to fill out a use of force report after the altercation.
Instead, the footage was discovered in late March during "a standard internal review of officers' interactions with the public."
In addition to Callahan's proposed termination, the department has also demoted two of his supervisors who were on duty that night "for failing to properly supervise the officer."
Although the university's written statement did not name the supervisors, a UTSA spokesperson confirmed last week the officers in question are Sgt. Robert Major and Cpl. Mari Spencer.
"We expect the highest degree of professionalism from our police force. The actions of these officers failed to meet that expectation and were not tolerated. Of the 49 use of force reports over the past six years, all were determined to be justified actions. Nonetheless, the department will continue to conduct regular assessments of its procedures, consistent with its commitment to providing the best police services to the community," Gerald Lewis, UTSA associate vice president for public safety and chief of police, said in a written statement.
Lewis declined requests for an on-camera interview because the investigation is not finalized, according to a university spokesperson.
Callahan, a two-year veteran of UTSA's police department, remains on administrative leave pending termination of his employment.
An internal investigation determined that Callahan exercised poor judgment and violated department policies, according to Lewis' statement.
Callahan did not respond to a request for comment left at his last known address.
"A young African-American man that respected officers. Mind my business. But y'all changed that tonight. Y'all changed me," Richardson is heard yelling near the end of the video.
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