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’I was guilty before proven innocent:’ Jogger speaks out after encounter with San Antonio police

Mathias Ometu ‘felt violated’ after he was jailed on charges that were later dropped

SAN ANTONIO – A day after his assault charges were dropped, Mathias Ometu said Wednesday his arrest and treatment by the San Antonio Police Department need to be addressed.

Ometu, a Black man, was arrested on Aug. 25 after police stopped him for “fitting the description” of a family violence suspect they were seeking, even though the victim’s description differed from Ometu’s physical profile, according to body camera footage released on Tuesday.

Ometu publicly spoke out about his arrest for the first time in a press conference he held with his attorneys, who recounted his experience of the arrest.

While jogging near Interstate 10 and Woodstone Drive, Ometu said he noticed a police car slow down by him before speeding past him and turning back around toward him.

Ometu said he felt targeted by the police, who were looking for Darren Smith Jr., who was arrested Friday on an unrelated robbery warrant. Smith has not been charged in connection with the family violence incident.

When police told Ometu they wanted to take him to the apartment complex so the victim would identify him as the suspect, he persisted on remaining where he is.

“Once those doors close on you, you never know when they’re going to open again,” Ometu said.

A struggle ensued as officers forcefully tried to place him in the car. During the struggle, officers said they were kicked by Ometu.

“I did not intentionally kick, scratch, or harm any officer,” Ometu said.

Ometu admitted he was aggravated during the incident because he was an innocent man.

“I was guilty before proven innocent,” Ometu said.

Though he was not the suspect police sought, Ometu was still arrested and jailed for two days.

“I experienced true darkness,” Ometu said about his time in jail.

San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who said officers acted appropriately during the arrest, said officers requested to have the charges dropped in an effort to help the community heal in a time where policing and race has been scrutinized on a national level.

What occurred was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. Although he fit the description of a domestic violence suspect, Mr. Ometu was doing nothing wrong when he was stopped, and the officers were only doing their jobs when they stopped him. Both officers wish that things had turned out differently given Mr. Ometu turned out not to be the suspect. Although the police officers were assaulted, they were not injured. As such, they have asked that the charges against Mr. Ometu be dismissed. They also do not want Mr. Ometu to suffer any adverse consequences from the incident. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has agreed to drop the charges. Both officers felt it important to use this incident as an opportunity for unity and understanding at a time when it is most needed. It is clear that pursuing charges against Mr. Ometu would not bring us closer to our goals of building trust and creating partnerships with our community. We have invited Mr. Ometu to start a dialogue on policing in San Antonio, and that invitation will remain open.

Police Chief William McManus

Ometu’s attorneys want McManus to retract that statement and “own up” to what happened.

An SAPD spokesperson on Wednesday declined to make McManus available for an interview and said via email, “SAPD has nothing further to add and we stand by the information and video that was released yesterday. Thank you.”

“I was treated unfairly, and that has to be addressed,” Ometu said. “I was physically, emotionally and mentally harmed, and that has to be addressed.”

When asked what should happen to the police officers, Ometu said the officers need more training.

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