The El Paso officer recorded in a viral video pulling out his gun while dealing with a group of juveniles in July has been cleared of wrongdoing, according to an investigation.
EPPD Police Chief Greg Allen held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to make the findings public.
Allen said he ordered an investigation into the July 5 incident after local media, including KFOX14, aired an interview with the mother of two of the juveniles involved, in which she says an officer pointed a gun at the group and choked her son.
The officer was identified as Jose Rios. Allen said he is back on duty.
“The fact that he was involved in an incident that drew a lot of attention is no reason in my opinion, and I know I’m right on that, to take that person out of the community simply because there was an outrage at one point,” Allen said.
The investigation was completed Tuesday and presented to the Disciplinary Review Board, Allen said.
The board is comprised of five officers of various ranks and five citizens.
The board heard from witnesses, reviewed the viral video and another video taken in the area from a different vantage point, and talked to Rios.
The board found that Rios did not point his gun at the group, but at an individual juvenile involved.
In the press conference, Allen said Rios was familiar with the neighborhood. There had been calls in the past about shots fired in the area, Allen said.
“The officer was on high alert, in handling the call he was dispatched to handle,” Allen said.
According to the investigation, Rios had dealt with some of the juveniles involved in the past.
Some of the witnesses interviewed said they believed the officer was in danger of being “jumped” by the group of kids and one of the witnesses heard one of them saying “let’s jump him,” according to the investigation.
It was determined that the Rios did not choke the juvenile.
Officers went to the 3700 block of Sambrano Avenue in reference to a criminal trespass and criminal mischief in progress call.
According to court documents, the group may have been inside a vacant apartment without consent of the owner.
In a video posted on social media, the officer is seen pointing his weapon while a group of kids were heard yelling obscenities at the officer.
During the incident, Julian Saucedo, 17 was arrested and charged with interfering with public duties, according to an arrest report.
Officers detained the group and told them to stand against the wall of the Seville Recreation Center in the area when Saucedo’s brother, Jacob Saucedo, 15, walked away from the group and allegedly yelled,“You ain’t got (expletive) on me (expletive), I’m just gonna leave.”
The arrest affidavit states that Jacob Saucedo disobeyed the order of the officer to get back on the sidewalk by continuing to walk around and behind the officer.
The complaint states, that “due to the large group of juveniles and their constant moving and attempts to walk behind officer Rios,” the officer told Jacob Saucedo to “step back and get against the wall,” as the investigation was underway. The document states the officers told the juveniles they were detained and could not leave until the investigation was over.
After the incident happened, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office revealed that six minors seen in the viral video were also implicated in a burglary that happened at the toll booth at Ascarate Park on July 2.
Sheriff Richard Wiles said they solved the burglary thanks to the video that went viral about the Sambrano Avenue incident.