Keller, TX — In one of the most blatant attacks on the first amendment, a power tripping cop arrested a completely innocent man for allegedly "making a wide right turn." This power tripping cop then called for backup and he and his backup then attacked, pepper sprayed, and beat that man's dad for filming the unlawful arrest. The video evidence against the officers was so compelling that a lawsuit against the city was settled for a whopping $200,000 less than 6 months after the incident.
Though the lawsuit was settled swiftly, it took the city of Keller, Texas nearly a year to charged the officer involved. Finally, 9 months after his disgraceful abuse of authority was captured on video, ex-Keller Police Sgt. Blake Shimanek was indicted on a charge of official oppression — a misdemeanor. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.
The arrest came after months of the community and activists demanding accountability, and finally, that accountability has come.
In January, as TFTP reported, the City of Keller agreed to pay $200,000 to Marco Puente after he was attacked, beaten, and pepper sprayed for legally standing on a public sidewalk, filming police harass and falsely arrest his son. Despite Puente's arrest being entirely illegal, the officers involved were not immediately fired or charged, It took them 9 months to charge just one of the cops involved.
It is not very often that police departments issue an apology and admit wrongdoing. However, the following case was such an abuse of authority that it prompted the Keller police chief to call the family and apologize for the abuse and demote Sergeant Blake Shimanek for his role in the incident. Shimanek later resigned in an attempt to avoid further accountability.
The incident, which took place on Aug. 15, 2020 is nothing short of disturbing.
According to police, officer Shimanek accused 22-year-old Dillon Puente of making a wide right turn. Because Shimanek's job description entails extorting, and/or kidnapping people for arbitrary victimless traffic "offenses," this officer moved to pull Puente over.
Puente had harmed no one and was on the way to his grandmother's house when he pulled over and complied with all the officer's orders. Even when he was told to exit the vehicle, Puente complied and allowed the officer to put him in handcuffs for a traffic infraction that is not even considered a crime in the state of Texas. It is merely a moving violation.
Nevertheless, Shimanek placed Puente under arrest — citing officer safety — for a wide right turn. Before Shimanek hauled this innocent man off to jail, Dillon’s dad Marco Puente showed up to film the interaction.
“He was ticketed and taken to jail for a wide right turn,” said Marco Puente in an interview with WFAA.
As the video shows, originally, Marco stopped his truck in the lane next to his son but was told to move by Shimanek because he was blocking traffic. Marco immediately complied and legally parked his truck down the road before returning to stand on the public sidewalk and film his son's arrest for a wide right turn.
Shimanek apparently doesn't like people exercising their First Amendment right to film in public and when his backup arrived, he ordered officer Ankit Tomer to arrest Marco too. Not having the courage to refuse an unlawful order, officer Tomer quickly obeyed.
“The officer didn’t like me being there recording anything,” Marco told WFAA.
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He certainly did not and as the video shows, Tomer had no problem obeying an unlawful order to arrest a man for filming.
“Put your phone down,” Tomer said. “Put your hands behind your head.”
“This guy is arresting me for just standing here,” Marco said in the video.
For questioning his unlawful arrest, Tomer escalated force against the entirely innocent father.
“They tried to take me down and pepper spray me, and it was a fiasco,” Marco said.
As the video shows, the officers tackle the innocent man to the ground, and repeatedly pepper spray him in the face before placing him in handcuffs. Marco and his son were then kidnapped and brought to jail.
All charges were dropped against the father and son duo after police reviewed the video.
“Marco is not a criminal. This is a man, a concerned father, and if this can happen to him, it can happen to anyone,” Marco's attorney Scott Palmer said earlier this year. “These officers knew better. I believe they were trained better, but why did they not execute better? I don’t know.”
Indeed, they did know better. However, they have been operating above the law for some time according to WFAA, who pulled their internal affairs reports to find a list of complaints.
Tomer was not disciplined at all as officials used the excuse that he was just following orders. Would they have used the same excuse if Shimanek ordered Tomer to kill Puente?
According to the lawsuit, two days after the incident, the police chief met with Marco to apologize for the officers’ conduct “and to reiterate that Officers Shimanek and Tomer were in the wrong, not Mr. Puente.”
“Who gets pulled out of a car and cuffed for a wide right turn?” Marco said. “Nobody. Nobody.”
Unfortunately, Marco and Dillon learned the hard way that the answer to that question is most certainly not "nobody."