Family violence charge dismissed against suspect mistaken for Black jogger

Darren Smith Jr. pleaded true to family violence allegation in unrelated robbery case in January, DA says

Booking photo for Darren Smith Jr. (left) and Mathias Ometu (right) seen in his Facebook profile picture.
Booking photo for Darren Smith Jr. (left) and Mathias Ometu (right) seen in his Facebook profile picture. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The felony family violence suspect San Antonio police were actually looking for in August when they detained a Black man jogging nearby will not go to trial in that case, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales confirmed this week.

Darren Smith Jr. instead pleaded true to the family violence allegation in January during a motion to revoke hearing in an unrelated robbery case, Gonzales said in a written statement released through a DA spokesperson.

“The complainant in the family violence case wanted this charge dropped and notified the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office she would not testify in the case unless she was subpoenaed. While the family violence charge itself was dismissed after consulting with the complainant, it was taken into consideration on the robbery charge and conditions appropriate for family violence were ordered,” Gonzales said in the written statement.

The arrest of the jogger, Mathias Ometu, was captured on cellphone camera by multiple eyewitnesses and ignited a national debate on a person’s right not to identify himself or herself while being detained by police.

Ometu, 34, was initially charged with two felony counts of assaulting a peace officer and spent two days in the Bexar County Jail after SAPD officers detained him while investigating a family violence incident near Interstate 10 and Woodstone Drive.

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

Officers said he matched a description of the suspect but Ometu refused to provide his name, leading them to handcuff him and force him into a vehicle, during which he allegedly kicked two officers.

SAPD officials later confirmed they were actually looking for Smith Jr., who was arrested days later on an unrelated warrant in the robbery case.

Prosecutors in early September dismissed the charges against Ometu.

Gonzales, in a written statement released at that time, called the decision a “just outcome” in the case.

He pointed out at the time that the officers requested the case against Ometu be dismissed as well.

Mathias Ometu spoke out publicly in September for the first time since he was arrested by San Antonio police. (KSAT)

“Once those doors close on you, you never know when they’re going to open again. I was guilty before proven innocent,” Ometu said during a press conference a week after his arrest.

A civil rights attorney representing Ometu did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

SAPD Chief William McManus said last year the officers “acted appropriately, within their legal authority and in a professional manner” and tried to “de-escalate” the situation.

McManus said in a statement released along with body-worn camera footage of the incident that Ometu was “immediately uncooperative and antagonistic.”

“Unfortunately, the situation could have been resolved within minutes with any degree of information sharing with the police officers that would have helped them determine Mr. Ometu was not the suspect they were looking for,” McManus said. “... Eventually, the victim was brought to the scene to view Mr. Ometu and told the officers he was not the suspect. Despite confirmation that he was not the suspect, Mr. Ometu still refused to identify himself.”

Smith Jr. was sentenced to six years in prison in the robbery case on Jan. 19, but was granted probation, court records show.

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