Warning: The video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers
A newly-released video obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders backed claims made by the Comal County Sheriff’s Office that a man fleeing from drug task force agents last month suffered serious injuries by falling onto a concrete curb after an agent deployed his Taser weapon.
Armando Guzman, 26, was hospitalized with significant facial and head injuries on Jan. 8 after agents tried arresting him on a felony drug possession warrant.
Guzman’s fiancee, Julia Buchanan, alleged that agents used excessive force, which Comal County Sheriff Mark Reynolds disputed.
After the Comal County District Attorney’s Office initially sought to withhold video footage of the incident, officials reversed course, putting out bodycam and nearby surveillance footage that showed the agents’ pursuit of Guzman.
On Jan. 8, an agent in an unmarked car stopped Guzman as he was walking along the I-35 frontage road and Highway 46.
“You got a warrant,” the agent tells Guzman.
“What the f—k,” Guzman responded, before running away from agents through a parking lot.
Two agents chased after him, with one unsuccessfully deploying his Taser in an effort to bring Guzman into custody.
As Guzman ran through adjacent lots, another agent deployed his Taser, which attached to Guzman’s head, the video showed. Guzman abruptly fell into a curb, causing serious facial injuries.
“Can I get EMS behind Wendy’s? We have one male in custody. Facial lacerations from a fall due to Taser,” the agent tells dispatchers.
Guzman, bleeding, was grunting in pain before asking officers, “what the hell did I do?”
“What are you running for,” one of the agents responded.
Minutes later, agents told Guzman again he had a warrant for his arrest.
“For what?” Guzman asks.
“We’ll let you know,” the agent replied.
Guzman was taken to the hospital for his injuries rather than to jail.
“After the use of force, tending to his injuries outweighed advising him of any potential additional charges,” said Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. “Mr. Guzman also asked that officers call his wife. The most pressing thing at the time was to stabilize him due to injuries received in his fall.”
The agents who deployed the Tasers acted within the agency’s policies, Smith added.
Comal County court records showed Guzman was previously charged with possession of controlled substances in 2017. Officials said Guzman’s warrant was granted in connection with that charge, though he has to be taken into custody since the incident occurred.
After reviewing the video, St. Mary’s School of Law professor Geary Reamey agreed that excessive force would be difficult to prove in this case despite the injuries Guzman suffered.
“Justifications aren’t determined by the extent to which someone or something is harmed,” Reamey said.
The agents’ use of the Taser is considered “non-deadly force” by state law, meaning that the agents were acting within the law when using it to bring Guzman into custody, Reamey said.
Buchanan could not be reached for comment after her phone line was apparently disconnected.
Guzman has not been formally charged in connection to the Jan. 8 incident, court records show.