SAPD officer challenged prisoner to fight, removed evidence from shooting scene

Officer Matthew Belver handed indefinite suspension for 2015 incident

By Tim Gerber - Reporter/Anchor

San Antonio - Eloy Leal was under arrest, handcuffed in the back of a San Antonio Police Department patrol vehicle when the officer who put him there challenged Leal to a fight for his freedom.

The incident happened last August and has earned the officer, Matthew Belver, an indefinite suspension from the department.

Leal said he encountered Belver on the morning of Aug. 2, 2015, when officers were investigating a shooting that occurred near Leal's home in the 3100 block of Chamita.

Leal said he noticed some bullets on the ground and pointed them out to Belver.

"I told the officer there were still bullet shells behind my brother's truck," Leal said. "He asked me where and I pointed there on the ground and he grabbed me by my shirt and pulled me into the street and got me for jaywalking."

Leal said Belver used his Taser on him then placed him in handcuffs and forcefully put him in the patrol car. He said that's when Belver issued his challenge.

"If you can beat my butt, I'll let you go back home to your family. But if I beat your butt and mess you up, don't go crying to the Magistrate office that I beat you up," Leal recalled. "They were dragging me out, I still had the cuffs on and he threw me against the car then he uncuffed me."

According to documents obtained by the Defenders, Belver said, "You can get out. Let's go ... run ... do something ... do something."

But Leal refused to fight.

"Yeah, because the other cop was going to shoot. (Belver) says, 'If he tries to run or something shoot him,'" Leal said. "I refused to fight, I did. I said, 'I'll just go to jail, I didn't do nothing. You got me for jaywalking, OK, let's go.'"

Leal was placed back in handcuffs and taken to the Bexar County Magistrates Office to be booked for jaywalking and interfering with the duties of a public servant.

Leal said Belver continued to berate him the entire way to the office.

"He said that I was probably a Mexican that never graduated, that I was probably one of those wetbacks and racial stuff," Leal said.

Leal does have a criminal record, including prior arrests for resisting and evading arrest, and assault on a public servant, and he's served 17 years in prison on other charges.

He said he didn't make a complaint against Belver because he thought no one would believe him.

But someone else did complain, which led to a visit from SAPD's Internal Affairs investigators about two months after the incident occurred.

The investigators had audio and video recordings from Belver's dash-mounted camera and it backed up Leal's story.

He said he was glad to hear Belver agreed to the indefinite suspension and likely won't be wearing an SAPD uniform again.

"They're there to serve and protect, not to do what they want because of the badge," Leal said.

Belver was also accused of removing shell casings from the scene of the shooting but never contacting crime scene investigators and never placing the evidence in the property room.

The interfering charge against Leal was recently dropped but he still had to pay a ticket for jaywalking.

Leal said he is still considering whether or not he'll press charges against Belver.

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