State officials will investigate whether police officers were wrong to use stun guns and pepper spray while responding to a noise complaint at a family birthday party last week in Baytown, Texas.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office will look into allegations of police brutality after family members who were at the party released a cell phone video showing police officers using a taser and wrestling people to the ground at the party on May 4. Another video shows children inside the home complaining about burning caused by pepper spray.
Seven members of the family were arrested after the incident, including a 53-year-old woman who was tased four times, according to local news reports. Another woman who was arrested, Erica Clarke, told reporters police officers repeatedly called members of the family “wetbacks.”
Baytown City Police said they entered the home’s backyard shortly after midnight on May 4 after getting a noise complaint from neighbors. Officers earlier had warned the homeowner, Jose Zepeda, about noise complaints, according to a police department press release.
The situation seems to have escalated when officers tried to arrest Zepeda after he refused to sign a citation for disturbing the peace. Three men who were also arrested surrounded the officers and someone locked the house door, according to police.
The videos show officers violently attacking family members who appear to be trying to protect those being tased. Police have refuted any use of racial slurs after reviewing the videos, saying the officers were shouting at the partygoers to “get back.”
Community activists staged a protest against police brutality in front of the Baytown City Police Department.
“The Baytown Police Department has a notorious history of violating the human and civil rights of Mexicans and blacks,” Quanell X, a community activist and longtime leader of the New Black Panthers Party in Houston, said.
Several phone calls to Baytown City Police Department were not immediately answered.