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Bexar County DA Drops Charges Against Misidentified Black Jogger, Bodycam Footage Released

Mathias Ometu was mistakenly identified as a domestic violence suspect on Aug. 25.
San Antonio Police Department
Mathias Ometu was mistakenly identified as a domestic violence suspect on Aug. 25.

A letter from San Antonio Police Chief William McManus to City Manager Erik Walsh claims that SAPD officers acted “appropriately” when they mistakenly identified a Black jogger as a suspect in a domestic violence report.

After it was learned the jogger was not the suspect, he was still arrested and charged for assaulting the officers. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has since dismissed assault charges made against him.

Mathias Ometu told officers he was out exercising, and not the man they were looking for. When he did not give his name, officers put him in handcuffs.

He was not under arrest but, officers said, he was detained. They tried to put Ometu in the back of their patrol car using open-hand force which McManus characterized as “minimal.” In response, Ometu kicked at the officers.

The victim who filed the domestic violence report told officers Ometu was not the suspect. Officers still arrested him for assault. He was in jail for two days before posting $20,000 bond.

An administrative review was opened to investigate the encounter.

In his letter, McManus said he listened to 911 calls and watched the body camera footage of the incident. He claims “Ometu was immediately uncooperative and antagonistic. He steadfastly refused to provide his name.”

According to state law, a person is not required to provide their identity to police, but they are required to follow officer instructions during detainment.

Victor Maas and Jennifer Rodriguez witnessed the encounter and posted a video to Facebook Live.

Maas said he doesn’t believe police deescalated the incident.

“This guy should not be afraid jogging down the street,” Maas said. “He looked scared.  Like, ‘I’ve done nothing wrong.’ Like, ‘My freedom is being taken from me.’”

McManus wrote in his letter that he believes a responding officer “repeatedly tried to deescalate the situation.”

He added, “I fully understand that the public has questions and concerns about this matter given the media attention it has already received and the heightened awareness of racial injustice.”

SAPD will work with the District Attorney’s Office to facilitate a possible dialogue with Ometu, according to McManus.

Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales said in a statement we was dropping the assault charges made against Ometu.

“It is important to note the officers involved in this case have requested dismissal as well,” Gonzales wrote. “In this case, the officers did have a description that led them to believe that Mr. Ometu may have been the suspect they were seeking. However, Mr. Ometu was not that person and did not have an obligation to identify himself or make a statement. Ultimately, the officers agree that dismissal is in the interest of justice.”

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.

Bri Kirkham can be reached at bri@tpr.org or on Twitter at @BriKirk.

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