HOUSTON – The family of a woman seen in a viral video being arrested spoke out Thursday ahead of the woman’s court appearance.
A press conference took place after 8:30 a.m. outside of the Harris County Justice Center.
The family of 19-year-old Ester Gonzalez, who also identifies as Isis Calderon, said Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputies used excessive force when arresting her on July 27. On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office released body-worn camera footage of the incident that was reported around 10:48 a.m. at a convenience store in the 12300 block of Eastex Freeway in east Harris County.
According to HCSO, two deputies responded to the gas station after receiving a call about a woman refusing the leave the property. The video shows the woman struggling with deputies, HCSO stated.
HCSO Assist. Chief Mike Lee said the woman can be seen attempting to hit a deputy and that a deputy struck her before she was finally detained.
“One deputy struck Miss Gonzalez multiple times before she was taken into custody,” Lee said.
Watch the video of the arrest below:
Calderon was charged with resisting arrest and failing to identify as a fugitive for an open warrant for assaulting a public servant.
The incident is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Office Internal Affairs Division. Three of the responding deputies are on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation, according to HCSO.
“Yesterday we saw the release of the video and even though there’s a lot of time leading up to the altercation, at the end of the day, nothing merits the amount of force that was used at the end to subdue Calderon after the altercation took place,” FIEL Executive Director Cesar Espinosa said Thursday.
“One of the things that we noticed and we want to highlight about this video is that after 20 minutes, after an officer was standing there for 20 minutes and saw that Calderon was rambling on about different things, had a lot of issues going on… he was the one that perpetuated the beating which left Calderon in here in the infirmary for over a week now,” Espinosa said.
Espinosa said another concern of the family is that Calderon signed some documents and may not be in the right mind to do so. In addition, Calderon was given commands by deputies in English instead of Spanish, Espinosa said.
Watch Wednesday’s press conference below:
In late July, Gonzalez’s sister Karen Aguilera said that it was not necessary to hit her sister and that she was beaten up by the police officer.
“She couldn’t understand what was going on basically,” Aguilera said.
Espinosa said Calderon was a former DACA recipient and because of a couple of challenges in her life, she was unable to renew her work permit as of January. He said she was in an altercation with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the family wants transparency into what led up to her arrest. Espinosa said as of July 30, they initially were not able to see Calderon, speak with her or know her condition. Family members said they have seen her since then.
He said Iris has suffered from mental health issues since the age of 16 and has been diagnosed previously with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The family also told Espinosa due to her mental health issues, she goes by different names. Espinosa said because of the family’s immigration status and other complications, members have not been able to get her the help she needs. He said the family is concerned because they don’t know Iris’s state of mind.
”Images in the videos are quite disturbing,” Espinosa said.
He said the family feels officers used excessive use of force against Iris and wants to know what led up to her arrest and the altercation between officers. He said in the video, Ester was hit and kicked by an officer.
“What we’re looking for is basically justice for my sister. That’s what we need,” Aguilera said. “We’re just looking for answers.”
Espinosa said they are in the process of getting legal representation for Calderon and her family.