A blind man claims he was assaulted by a Phoenix police officer for no reason as he was trying to use a public restroom.
Marco Zepeda said the incident happened at a QuikTrip store near 83rd Avenue and McDowell Road. The man said he was snapping his fingers and feeling around for a urinal, when suddenly, out of nowhere, he was shoved by someone. Zepeda said he pushed his attacker back and began scuffling with him, not knowing he was a police officer. In a few moments, the cop was able to slam the helpless Zepeda to the ground. It was reportedly then that he revealed he was a police officer.
“He grabbed and he screamed at me ‘I told you I was the police.’ But he never did it. I swear to God he never did it,” Zepeda said.
A 10-second video of the incident was caught on camera by a witness, Walter Gastelum, who was inside another cubicle.
In the video, Zepeda can be heard saying in English, “I’m blind,” and saying “I’m blind. Do you see my eyes? Look,” in Spanish.
Zepeda also claimed the officer’s attack knocked off his plastic orbital prosthetic.
“I turn around to him and I go, look at my eyes, I'm blind, I didn't know you were a [police officer]” said Zepeda. However, apparently, the cop had also turned temporarily blind as he couldn’t see the very obviously impaired Zepeda or his false eye rolling on the ground.
What the cop couldn’t see at even such close quarters was noticed by Gastelum.
“After I opened the door, the police officer stood up, looked up at me, he’s like, ‘He hit me first.’ And I was like, ‘He’s blind.’” Gastelum said. “Marco kept screaming, ‘I’m blind. I can’t see. I’m blind. I’m blind. You can clearly see that he's blind. I don't know how you can miss that.”
The witness said it was a clear case of police brutality.
The Phoenix Police Department confirmed to a local news channel that the officer did indeed shove Zepeda because he was being approached while using the bathroom. They also gave the very same bizarre excuse that the cop could not see any physical indicators that Zepeda was visually impaired — even though Gastelum could immediately tell he was blind.
The department said the officer suffered minor injuries after Zepeda punched him in the face — but the visually impaired man remained uninjured even when he was slammed to the ground by a cop.
Zepeda is denying the claim that he punched the cop.
“I’m telling the truth. There’s no reason for me to lie to the public,” he said.
The man was booked for aggravated assault and had to spend a night in jail. Fortunately, his charges were dismissed by the Maricopa County attorney. As for the police officer, he was, unsurprisingly, charged with nothing.
Zepeda is now considering filing a complaint and a lawsuit.
"To go to prison, it's freaking hard. It's a nightmare for me," said the man tearfully.
Gastelum said the police officer should not have overreacted and arrested Zepeda.
“He’s an officer. He shouldn’t have responded like that. If anything he should’ve guided him,” Gastelum said. “The cops are here to serve and protect, not to harass and collect. That's the truth.”
Perhaps it’s time the criminal justice system starts punishing its law enforcement officers — who are supposed to be trained to deal with crisis with a level head — for overreacting over absolutely nothing. People have gotten hurt, and worse, when cops needlessly lose their heads.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Pixabay