Murray, UT — One would think that when a police officer walks up to a child who is asleep on a sidewalk that this police officer would try to wake the boy up and make sure he’s okay. And, that’s what happened when Murray Police Sgt. Luis Argueta-Salazar found a boy asleep by a tire shop. However, because Argueta has a seeming rage problem, on top of trying to wake the sleeping boy, he punched him in the face as well.
This entire scenario was captured on Argueta’s body camera and served as evidence in the criminal case against this abusive cop. In January, a jury deliberated just 90 minutes before returning a guilty verdict against Argueta.
On Monday, despite requests by prosecutors to put him in jail, he was sentenced to just a year of probation, a $1,000 fine and a requirement that he complete an anger-management course.
The incident happened in June of 2018 in the middle of the day as Argueta approached the sleeping boy, shook him, rubbed his chest, and then twisted his wrists. The boy, who was allegedly high on a substance did not wake up and instead shifted his legs around as most sleeping people would do when trying to stay sleeping.
“Wake up,” says the officer as he slaps the kid in the face, rubs his sternum and applies pain techniques to his wrists.
“Get the f— out of here, please!” the teen slurs. “Please go.”
For not immediately waking up, the cop then punched the boy in the face and began rubbing his head into the ground.
“I was in shock,” the boy testified at the trial. “Like who was hitting me? I don’t know who it is.”
When paramedics showed up, they took the boy—who was not charged with a crime as he hadn’t committed one—and Argueta made no mention of the use of force. In fact, he never mentioned the incident until a witness who saw the cop punch a sleeping boy called the department a week later.
It wouldn’t be until almost a week later — and days after the woman who witnessed the assault called his department — that Argueta would write a police report that gave any indication he had used force on the teen, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Montgomery argued to the jury that Argueta delayed writing the report because he didn’t want to get in trouble, and he didn’t think anyone else had witnessed the violence.
“He has to hide it,” the prosecutor argued.
Naturally, Argueta’s attorney attempted to claim the force was justified because the sleeping teen boy made the officer fear for his safety—seriously.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Argueta testified at the trial, telling jurors he was worried about his safety that day. He said he was concerned the teen could kick him in a knee that had been injured before, or push him into traffic. What if the teen sprang up after kicking him and grabbed his gun?
“I didn’t know what kind of person I was dealing with,” the sergeant testified, “whether he was more agile than me.”
By that logic, this officer could be justified in punching just about anyone at anytime because they could suddenly spring up and kick him in the knee. Elderly women, even babies pose a threat of suddenly springing up and kicking this officer in his bum knee.
Luckily, the jury didn’t buy the whole ‘I feared for my life because the unarmed teen boy—who was SLEEPING—posed a significant threat’ line and they convicted Argueta of misdemeanor assault.
After the trial, the prosecutor minced no words when he called this 25-year veteran cop a bully with a badge and a gun.
“Argueta punched an innocent, essentially defenseless kid in the face because he’s got a gun and a badge,” prosecutor Ed Montgomery argued to jurors at the trial. “[He] is a bully cop with an anger-management problem.”
After hearing the violent cop’s insultingly week sentence, the boy’s father who is not identified to protect the minor’s identity, spoke out, pointing out the obvious.
“He should be held to a higher standard,” the father said, “because he should be enforcing the law.”
Indeed, as TFTP reports on a regular basis, when police betray the authority trusted in them by the public, they should receive harsher sentences than the average citizen as they have violated that trust and stabbed the citizens in the back whom they ostensibly they serve.
Unfortunately, as we report on a regular basis—the opposite happens and cops who abuse the trust of the citizens they serve get off with little to no punishment.
“The way the officer handled it was completely unprofessional,” the father said. “To assault a minor that is clearly asleep?”