Police Are Supposed to be Peace Officers’: Houston Teen Dragged Out of Car and Violently Arrested While Helping Friend Stuck In Parking Lot Without Gas
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that several of its deputies are under investigation in connection with their conduct during the arrests of two Houston-area high school football players this month.
Video of the incident was shared on social media last week and sparked accusations that the deputies used excessive force during the arrests.
According to a statement released by the HCSO, the department is launching a probe to see if “any policies and procedures were violated” during the arrest.
The video, shot this month in what appeared to be a shopping center parking lot, showed officers arresting Seth Palumbo, a football player at Langham Creek High School in suburban Houston, after he’d apparently been called by teammate Kristopher Willis when Willis ran out of gas, local station ABC 13 reported.
Willis had just left school when he ran out of gas and called his two friends to come to help him.
“As my friends pulled up, I gave them the bottles I had so they can fill it up with gas so I can make it to the gas station,” Willis told the station.
Willis stated that at that time about three or four police units appeared and pulled them over. It is not clear whether Willis and Palumbo’s cars were in the roadway at this point.
One video shot by a passenger in Palumbo’s car shows a deputy pulling Palumbo out of his car. The teen is seen shouting that he didn’t do anything as the deputy is dragging him out the car.
In what looks like chaos, the deputy is pulling the senior around and then slamming him on the ground. Other deputies surround the car and even try to stop the arrest from being filmed by Willis, who whipped out his cellphone to record from another angle.
The one passenger recording in the car is told to exit the vehicle before his phone is taken. His phone is then placed camera-down by the deputy, obstructing any video for the remainder of the recording.
The deputies arrested and originally charged both seniors, Willis and Palumbo, in the altercation. They were also taken to jail.
Willis was charged with a misdemeanor count of impeding a roadway.
Palumbo faced one count of assaulting a peace officer, a felony charge.
On Friday, April 14, a judge failed to find probable cause for Palumbo’s assault charge, leading to its dismissal.
In his first interview after the incident, the young man took issue with the deputies being called “peace officers.”
“I feel like police are really supposed to be peace officers. I feel like he just did a lot of aggravation. He wasn’t really trying to be peaceful. I feel like we don’t need people like that in the community,” ABC 13 reported Palumbo said after the judge’s decision.
Willis’ misdemeanor was not dropped, and his parents, an elementary school principal (mom) and a high school math teacher (dad) plan to take action after feeling outraged by the turn of events.
“I really think the police should be held accountable the same way they are holding my son accountable for a crime he did not commit,” said Kristopher Willis Sr.
Willis Sr. actually originally posted the videos on Facebook.
Attorney Antuan Johnson, the lawyer representing the Willis family, said he applauds the young men for not cowering to the badges and shutting off their phones.
“The only reason we are here is that he had the courage to get out the phone and record, and by that, we were able to see what happened,” Johnson said.
The HCSO released a statement regarding the video and said, “After reviewing the videos, we are investigating the incident to determine if any policies and procedures were violated.”
Adding its office has temporarily reassigned a deputy to a different area “pending the outcome of the investigation.”
“We take these matters seriously and will ensure a thorough investigation is completed in a timely manner,” the statement said. “Our deputies are held to the highest standard of professionalism, and any employee whose conduct does not align with departmental policies will be held accountable for their actions.”