Professor: Civil suit last legal remedy for man beaten by SAPD officers

DOJ clears officers in civil rights probe

SAN ANTONIO -- A day after federal authorities cleared three San Antonio police officers of criminal wrongdoing in the 2014 beating of a local man, a criminal justice professor says that a civil suit related to the case will also be difficult to win.

A Department of Justice release sent late Thursday said that the civil rights investigation into the May 2014 beating of Roger Carlos would be closed without prosecution.

According to the release, authorities could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that two SAPD SWAT officers and an undercover drug task force officer knowingly used excessive force, after they mistook Carlos for a violent felon they were pursuing in the area.

Carlos' injuries included a large gash over his eye, swelling of his skull and broken teeth.

However, it was an injury to his upper back that proved to be most problematic.

In Nov. 2015, during his third surgery to the area since the beating, a piece of bone broke off and pressed against Carlos' spinal cord.

At last check, Carlos remained paralyzed from the chest down, and had undergone multiple follow-up surgeries to try and alleviate pressure.

His family did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

SWAT officers Carlos Chavez and Virgilo Gonzalez and a third undercover officer that has never been identified publicly, served five-day suspensions for the incident.

The trio originally faced 15-day suspensions, which were later shortened after a recommendation from the chief's Advisory Action Board.

"The best we can hope for is the family can be made whole somehow. It doesn't look like in the criminal courts they'll be able to achieve that," UTSA Professor Roger Enriquez, J.D. said Friday.

RELATED: Feds clear SAPD officers in beating of man now paralyzed

Enriquez added that a civil suit filed by the Carlos family earlier this year against the officers and SAPD will also be difficult to win.

Besides sovereign immunity issues, which protect municipalities from accusations of wrongdoing, Enriquez said that the hospital likely bears some responsibility for the extent of his injuries.

Congressman Joaquin Castro, who has voiced his disapproval with the officers' actions throughout the nine-month federal investigation, released the following statement Friday:

"Unfortunately, the three officers who beat an innocent man until he was paralyzed did so, essentially, with impunity. They were permitted to use vacation time to fulfill their five-day suspensions. In this instance, the discipline handed down did not reflect the severity of what occurred."

(© 2016 KENS)


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