Federal jury finds 2 San Antonio police officers liable in excessive force case

Three officers subdued the man in 2014 after mistaking him for a suspect in a drug case, according to court testimony.

click to enlarge Attorneys for Rogelio "Roger" Carlos III argued in court that officers beat him after mistaking him for a fleeing drug suspect. - Shutterstock / Schmidt_Alex
Shutterstock / Schmidt_Alex
Attorneys for Rogelio "Roger" Carlos III argued in court that officers beat him after mistaking him for a fleeing drug suspect.
A federal jury on Wednesday determined that a pair of San Antonio police officers violated a local man's civil rights by using excessive force against him, the Express-News reports.

An undercover officer identified as Detective John Doe and then-SWAT officers Carlos Chavez and Virgilio Gonzalez subdued Rogelio "Roger" Carlos III on his family's property in May 2014 after they mistook him for a fleeing drug suspect, according to the daily.

During court arguments, Carlos' attorney, Philip G. Bernal, alleged the officers beat his client during the encounter and that Chavez pressed his knee into the subdued man's head with his full weight, the Express-News reports.

Ultimately, the jury agreed that Doe — whose name was withheld to protect his undercover work — and Chavez violated the civil rights of Carlos, who's now 51. Gonzalez was cleared of liability.

The City of San Antonio and the San Antonio Police Department were dismissed as defendants in the case before the trial got underway, according to the daily.

Now, a separate set of legal proceedings will determine what civil penalties the officers owe to Carlos, according to the Express-News. Following Wednesday's verdict, U.S. District Judge Fred Biery suggested the sides consider settlement talks, the paper reports.

Carlos must use a wheelchair after a spinal surgery left him paralyzed, according to the newspaper. He maintains he had the surgery to remedy pain that he suffered following his takedown by the SAPD officers, the report notes.

Carlos settled a civil claim against the spinal center that conducted his surgery before his civil trial against the police officers, according to the Express-News' reporting.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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