May 5, 2009
The El Paso police officer involved in the April 20 arrest of KVIA-New 7 reporter Darren Hunt and photographer Ric DuPont has lost his stripes.
But not because of the incident on Interstate-10, police spokesman, Javier Sambrano said.
Police Sgt. Raul Ramirez, a 19-year veteran who has been a sergeant for about 10 years, was demoted to patrol officer last week after an Internal Affairs investigation of a November complaint led to an excessive force finding.
Ramirez was also suspended for seven days, though such suspensions can be deducted from an officer’s compiled sick or vacation leave and may not result in an officer actually staying at home and not being paid.
“It’s not related to the Darren Hunt incident,” Sambrano said. “It’s related to an incident in November that’s just finished up. The chief over that region recommended a demotion, so he was demoted.
“The issue involved improper tactics. It was a use of force issue and improper tactics used by Sgt. Ramirez.”
Sambrano could not provide information late Tuesday.
The original complaint to the department’s Internal Affairs Division was not against Ramirez, Sambrano said, but against another officer who will not be disciplined.
“They looked into it and found this incident with Ramirez,” he said.
The investigation into the arrest of Hunt and DuPont is still open.
Much of that encounter between Ramirez and the two newsmen was recorded by DuPont and watched by millions of people around the country on YouTube and other Internet sites, including NewspaperTree.com and KVIA.com.
In the video, Hunt and DuPont were gathering information and video on a 18-wheel tractor-trailer that overturned, blocking all three westbound lanes on I-10.
The two were parked on the inside shoulder of the eastbound lanes when Ramirez jumped over the fence in the median and began ordering Hunt and DuPont to leave.
From the time Ramirez jumped the fence until he had his hands on Hunt and was telling him he was being arrested was about 30 seconds.
At present, Ramirez is performing administrative duty compiling information for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which evaluates and accredits police agencies around the country.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be temporary or not,” Sambrano said.
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