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Deputy calls arrest over assault of inmate 'frivolous'

Deputy Michael Fernandez initially said he 'inadvertently' hit inmate in face

A Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy was arrested on Friday, a day after being indicted on several charges stemming from a 2016 incident where he hit an inmate in the face.

Michael Fernandez was taken into custody around 10 a.m. after being indicted on a count of official oppression, violation of the civil rights of a person in custody, assault causing bodily injury and tampering with records.

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An indictment obtained by KSAT 12's Defenders states Fernandez hit Gilbert Ramos, an inmate at the Bexar County Jail in June of 2016, then lied about it.

Fernandez said the accusations were frivolous and that he never punched the inmate.

"This is all frivolous stuff," Fernandez said as he left the central magistrate office on Friday. "I'll have my court date."

Though Fernandez said he never punched the inmate, he served a 15-day suspension without pay following the 2016 incident, a suspension record from Aug. 2016 shows. Fernandez returned to work after serving the suspension. 

As part of his punishment, Fernandez was ordered to "act in a professional manner at all times while on duty and dealing with inmates."

He was issued the suspension under the previous sheriff, Susan Pamerleau.

The document states Fernandez was working the intake and release desk on June 15, 2016 when he hit Ramos in the face.

Fernandez told investigators he approached Ramos after he refused to comply with orders to sit down and that Ramos pulled away from him in a "fast and threatening manner while both his hands were clenched in a fist position."

Upon his release, Ramos filed a complaint with Professional Standards and Integrity claiming the force Fernandez used was unjustified.

Video footage corroborated Ramos' claims, showing Ramos was sitting on a bench in compliance with Fernandez's orders and that Fernandez's use of force was in response to verbal provocation and not to an actual threat.

Fernandez initially alleged that he "inadvertently" hit Ramos in the face.

“Although this incident occurred before my tenure as sheriff, I am committed to assisting the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office in seeking justice in this case," Sheriff Javier Salazar said.

Fernandez has been placed on administrative leave without pay.

Fernandez is among at least 10 deputies to face criminal charges this year.


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