VICTORIA, Texas — The lawyer for a Texas police officer fired for using a stun gun on a 76-year-old man says there was "nothing unreasonable" about using that level of force during a traffic stop that was captured on dashboard camera video.
Former Victoria police officer Nathanial Robinson was terminated last week, less than a month after the video from his patrol car on Dec. 11 garnered international attention. Robinson plans to appeal his firing, attorney Greg Cagle told the Victoria Advocate in a story published Sunday (http://bit.ly/1FHB3AP ).
Cagle said Robinson, 23, acted constitutionally within the law. Robinson stopped Pete Vasquez for an expired vehicle inspection sticker, and video captured Robinson grabbing Vasquez's arm and pushing him onto the police cruiser.
The footage didn't show what happened between the two after falling on the ground. Cagle said Vasquez kicked the officer, and that the level of resistance was a basis for using the stun gun and arresting Vasquez.
"There's nothing unreasonable at all about that level of force," said Cagle, adding that Vasquez "wasn't injured. He scratched his elbow and hurt his feelings, but those aren't injuries in the constitutional sense."
Victoria Police Chief Jeff Craig has said Robinson violated policies that included conduct and the use of force. He also personally apologized to Vasquez.
A criminal investigation into the traffic stop was completed by the Texas Rangers, who turned their findings over to local prosecutors for review.
Cagle is an attorney for the Texas Municipal Police Association. Kevin Lawrence, the group's executive director, said it has become more common for administrators and politicians to not stand behind police officers.
"Why we're not giving them more benefit of the doubt today, I don't know," Lawrence said. "I think it's a very dangerous path we're on."
Robinson had been with Victoria police for 18 months.
"If you think he could have done it different or better, then that's a training issue," Cagle said. "I think he deserves his job back, and that's what we're going to try to do."