Chief of police apologizes after officer uses Taser on 76-year-old man

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

VICTORIA, Texas - At 76 years old, Pete Vasquez of Victoria stands just 5 feet 5 inches and weighs 145 pounds. Now, Vasquez, a father of five and grandfather to 20 children, is at the center of a police dash cam video that is causing outrage.

The video shows Officer Nathanial Robinson of the Victoria Police Department arresting Vasquez last Thursday morning. But in the process, Robinson suddenly throws Vasquez onto the hood of his police car, he then tackles the elderly man to the ground and shoots him with a Taser gun twice.

Now, Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig has ordered two separate investigations into the officer's actions.

The first is a criminal investigation to be conducted by the Texas Rangers, the second an internal probe by the Victoria police into whether or not the officer violated departmental rules on the use of excessive force.

Regardless of the investigations, Pete Vasquez says the officer acted more like a pit bull than an officer of the law.

"'I'm putting the handcuffs on. Put your hands on the back of your back,'" Vasquez said Robinson told him. "And then I turn around and he pulls that Taser and he shot me with it. And you know, it looked like he's enjoying that."

"It sickens me," Larry Urich said.

Urich watched the entire event unfold from just a few feet away in front of the Adams Auto Mart in Victoria. He said the young officer was questioning Vasquez about an expired inspection sticker on the back of a car that he was dropping off at the dealership.

But Urich said when Vasquez tried to explain to the officer that it was a dealer's car with special dealer's plates and did not require a current inspection sticker, the officer got angry, grabbed Vasquez by the arm and started to cuff him.

At that point, Urich said Vasquez pulled his arm back. That's when the 23-year-old officer tackled Vasquez, pushing him into the police car hood and then forcing him to the ground.

Vasquez said on his way down the officer used a Taser on his chest once and then ordered him to get up. When he didn't, the officer used the Taser on him again -- this time in the leg.

Vasquez was then driven to a local hospital in handcuffs and detained by police.

Vasquez was never charged or cited for any wrongdoing. He told Local 2 News that the chief of Victoria police actually came to his house that night to apologize.

Tuesday afternoon Victoria police plan to hold a major press conference on this case.

As for Officer Nathanial Robinson, he has been placed on administrative duty.

"The department places a high value in public trust. Sometimes that means you have to take a real hard look at some of the actions that occur within the department. This is a process and one that requires a complete investigation to determine all the facts involved. I intend to follow a thorough process in collecting all the facts," said Craig.

Click here to see the dash cam video in its entirety.

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