Prosecutors dismiss felony charge against ex-SAPD officer accused of kneeling on suspect’s neck

Michael Brewer fired in 2020 along with Officer Andre Vargas in connection with incident

SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County prosecutors on Monday dismissed a felony charge against a former San Antonio police officer accused of kneeling on a suspect’s neck during a 2019 disturbance call.

Michael Brewer had been charged with unlawful restraint risking serious bodily injury, a third-degree felony.

Brewer was fired in 2020 along with Officer Andre Vargas after an SAPD internal affairs investigation determined Vargas used unnecessary force by lifting the suspect off the ground by his arms even though he was already handcuffed and that Brewer had subjected the man to unnecessary physical violence.

A Bexar County grand jury indicted Brewer in March 2022.

KSAT could find no record that Vargas was ever charged.

Brewer’s defense attorney, Ben Sifuentes, told KSAT Monday that SAPD and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office demonstrated “gross incompetence” by pursuing the case criminally.

“We played the video frame by frame and showed that at no point in time can we see a weight being applied to his neck,” Sifuentes said.

Sifuentes, who filed a writ seeking a dismissal in the case earlier this year, said evidence gathered at the time of the man’s arrest did not match the charge eventually filed against his client.

“When you take a look at everything, this is a case that’s unprovable, never should have been indicted,” Sifuentes said.

District Attorney Joe Gonzales released the following statement regarding the dismissal:

The Bexar County Grand jury found there was enough evidence to indict Mr. Brewer for unlawful restraint. “Serious bodily injury” is an essential part of the crime for which the defendant was indicted.

There was sufficient evidence to support the Grand Jury’s indictment, which was based on whether there was probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed.

However, our office must meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of guilt required by law. To do so, our office sought additional input from expert witnesses.

In light of the conflicting potential expert testimony and after reviewing all of the evidence and assessing our likelihood of success, a decision was made that this case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Accordingly, the case was dismissed.

SAPD released the following statement:

The San Antonio Police Department acknowledges the District Attorney’s decision to dismiss this case. The SAPD stands by its decision to fire Michael Brewer.

Sifuentes said that Brewer now will try to get his job back with SAPD.

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

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