Video showing Mission police punching man sparks concern

Updated at 7:07 p.m.

A video surfaced Wednesday of a Mission police officer punching a man and kneeling on his neck as he and another officer held him down in an attempt to detain him.

The video, viewed over 38,000 times on Facebook, was posted by Palmview resident Joe Zarate who said the incident occurred Wednesday afternoon.

Zarate said he and his family had left the Chili’s Bar & Grill just after 5 p.m. when they saw the man sitting under a tree.

“By the time we were done putting the kids in the truck we hear him yelling for help,” Zarate wrote in a message.

In the video, the man, now identified as Miguel Angel Garza Jr., is seen struggling and resisting arrest just before the officer begins punching him near the head and face.

“Regardless if the man was doing something wrong the police officers should not have punched him the way they were,” Zarate said. “We were not allowed to continue to record because the girl officer ran to her truck and parked in front of us so we couldn’t see.”

Around 4:51 p.m. on Wednesday, the Mission Police Department stated they received a call of a male subject lying in the grassy median in the parking lot of a local restaurant at 2419 E. Interstate 2, according to a news release issued Thursday.

Upon arrival, the two responding officers checked on Garza’s condition.

“Upon contact, they detected that the defendant emitted an odor of alcohol,” the statement read. “The defendant was cooperative at the time and provided his name and date of birth.”

The officers discovered that Garza was wanted by the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office on a failure to appear warrant for robbery and the officers told him he would be placed under arrest.

The department stated that Garza at first complied with the request to place his hands behind his back but then started to resist.

They added that the two officers repeatedly commanded Garza to stop resisting and to place his hands behind his back but they said he refused to comply.

“The officers, having knowledge that the defendant was wanted for a violent felony and was now being combative, used reasonable force to effect the arrest,” the release stated. “During the process of restraining the defendant, officers felt they were in imminent danger as the defendant placed his hand under his body reaching to his wait line.”

They added that the female officer injured her hand by hyper-extending her finger “causing her to lose strength in one of her hands.”

They stated that because the male officer knew the female officer had been injured, and was concerned about Garza’s concealed hand, he began to “impact the defendant using pain compliance” and ordered him to pull his hand from under his body.

The “impact” and “pain compliance” the release is referencing are the punches the officer landed around the man’s head area. The man could later be heard screaming.

Garza, 32, was eventually restrained and taken to Mission Regional Medical Center to be seen by a doctor but the department stated he refused medical attention.

The woman officer was also treated at the hospital for a fracture to her left index finger.

The department stated they would review the process of Garza’s arrest to assure their policies and procedures were followed.

Garza was arraigned on Thursday before Municipal Court Judge Mauro Reyna on charges of resisting arrest, a Class A misdemeanor, and assault on a police officer, a third-degree felony.

Reyna set cash surety bonds of $1,000 for resisting arrest charge and $5,000 for the assault charge.

Garza was transported to the Hidalgo County jail.

His previous run-ins with the law include two convictions — in 2008 and 2017 — of failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements after failing to notify Mission police and then the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office of his current address.

In 2008, he was also convicted for failure to identify fugitive after he refused to give his name to an officer when he was under arrest and was a fugitive at the time.

Police Chief Robert Dominguez declined to release the names of the officers involved, according to Investigator Art Flores, a spokesman for the police department.

Mission pd