San Antonio, TX — Over the years, TFTP has reported on numerous instances in which cops have pulled guns on people, who are entirely innocent, for absolutely no reason. However, we've never reported on someone being held at gunpoint for attempting to return a lost cell phone — until now.
A video was published to YouTube this week showing a man — who chooses to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation — having a gun pulled on him for returning a cell phone. The unnamed man has every reason to fear retaliation as the man who pulled a gun on him is a recently retired San Antonio cop. Despite committing aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on video, the retired cop has yet to be charged with a crime.
According to a report from KENS 5, the incident started when a man found a cell phone lying in the street last month. The owner of the phone had left it on the hood of her car and then drove off, leaving it on the street. The man explained that he found the phone and held onto while running errands. Showing that his intentions were indeed genuine, when the owner of the cell phone called the phone, the man answered it and said he would bring it to her. Little did he know the owner of the phone was already tracking him down.
KENS 5 reports:
As they all tracked the phone’s location in different vehicles, the report states one of the individuals called the phone and the man answered. The man told KENS 5 he told the woman on the other end of the line that he would return the phone but needed to stop at Home Depot first. He said the woman was not satisfied with that and wanted the phone immediately, because it contained a relative’s credit card and identification card. He said he told the woman he was unable to immediately meet because the errand was time-sensitive. The man continued, saying that the woman began yelling and cursing, and that he responded in kind before he eventually hung up.
The man told police he was driving down Culebra Road and was stopped at a light when a woman appeared at his window, knocking and asking for the phone. He said he yelled at the woman because he wasn’t sure who she was and drove to a gas station when the light turned green. The man told officers when he got to the gas station that a woman again confronted him and he threw the phone to her, frustrated that he had been accused of stealing it. The man told KENS 5 via phone Wednesday that he then told the woman she was ungrateful and if she would have just waited for him to complete his errand, he would have returned the phone.
The man thought the worst was over, until he arrived at Home Depot where he said a man in a red Jeep approached him with a gun and identified himself as a retired San Antonio Police officer.
When the man saw the gun, he pulled out his phone and began recording as the crazed retired cop, identified as John Schiller, demanded he "put his hands up!"
"What’re you doing, man? What’re you going to do? Shoot me?” the man says.
The retired cop demands that the man get on the ground and wrongfully accuses him of stealing the phone — which he had already given back to the owner.
“I tell you what I’m going to do, you stole the phone,” said Schiller while being recorded.
“Get on the ground. Get on the ground now! Get on the (expletive) ground. You think I’m playing?” said Schiller
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Schiller began hitting the man with his gun before the pair exchanged punches. Luckily the man was not shot.
Eventually police showed up to the scene and that's when the corruption began. Schiller was not charged with a crime, despite clearly committing one.
After the video was posted online, police released a statement claiming the lack of arrest is justified because the victim has yet to come in to make a statement. But the victim had already made his statement at the scene of the crime which should have been probable cause for an arrest.
The victim has unfortunately not come in to make a statement. The lead Detective has reached out but we are still waiting on him to come in. He is scheduled to come in with his attorney but we unfortunately can not move forward until he gives a statement. Last thing I want is for the public to receive misinformation on a case we are handling. We do not condone any preferential treatment and will do our due diligence in the cases we handle no matter the suspect.
However, the victim's wife said her husband had already made several calls to the detective in charge of the case.
Robert Gebbia, a criminal defense attorney with Hoelscher, Gebbia, Cepeda, PLLC, told KENS 5 that he reviewed the video and saw a clear abuse of authority on the retired officer's part.
"I don't think that there's any justification to to come up on an individual in plain clothes,” Gebbia said. "You're not an officer anymore—to draw your weapon and try to get somebody down on the ground...there's no reason for it. It's clearly an abuse in my mind.”
"He thinks he's doing a good thing by getting somebody's phone in and reaching out to them and saying, ‘Hey, I'm going to deliver the phone to you,’” Gebbia explained. "And the next thing he knows, he's getting drawn down on by an individual who he's never met before and he doesn't know what this person's qualifications are.
"In fact, the victim in this instance, would have been justified in using deadly force himself. And then things really could have gotten out of control.”
Luckily for the man, it did not get so out of control that he lost his life.