Amarillo, TX — Jacob Herrera, 14, was going to his middle school’s Wednesday night football game, when he was arrested for wearing a rosary.
When Herrera arrived at the game he was approached by Corporal Wilson of the Amarillo Police Department, who asked him to remove his rosary.
Allegedly Herrera refused to remove the rosary at which point, according to witness, Marivell Chavez, he was brought to the ground. During the struggle on the ground Herrera was apparently yelling out, “Call my mom” and “I can’t breathe”!
“You know he handcuffed him and then crossed him across the street right there and slammed him again and he repeatedly slammed the child on the floor,” Chavez tells Channel 10 News.
The APD says that this is not how the incident happened. They say that 14-year-old Herrera refused to comply with the officer’s commands and resisted arrest.
“He was fighting with the officer, he wouldn’t comply with the commands, he wouldn’t put his arms behind his back. The officer used a couple of different compliance holds to try and get him to put his hands behind his back, he did not deploy his taser, he just tried to get him under control they rolled around on the ground for several minutes,” says Cpl Jerry Neufeld.
Apparently kids wearing rosaries is a sign of being involved in a gang.
“We are not indicating that this is the case in this particular incident but that sometimes our youth are using rosary beads as a sign of gang affiliation or some gang apparel again we are not saying that’s what it is, but we have seen it with others here in the United States,” says Cpl Neufeld.
According to Herrera’s mother, Lori Martinez, her son was wearing the rosary as a tribute to his deceased brother and has nothing to do with being a gang member.
“My son passed away two years ago, in 2012 and he was teaching Jacob, you know about god and how you know, he should wear the rosary to protect him, so Jacob believes that that rosary protects him and it’s in remembrance of his brother,” said Martinez.
As of Friday, Herrera is still in police custody for his alleged “criminal activity.” He is being held at the Youth Center of High Plains. Thursday parent witnesses and students wore rosaries as a symbol for the release of Herrera.
“I just want justice for my son and for them to let him go,” says Martinez.