El Paso, TX — Three months ago, Jose Olivia, 71, went to the Veterans Affairs Clinic in El Paso for a check up. However, he would not get a check up that day — instead, he’d be brutalized and arrested.
Because of the injuries Olivia sustained during the assault, Olivia says he’s had to undergo two separate surgeries — one on his throat and one on his shoulder.
On February 16, as the elderly veteran attempted to walk through the metal detectors at the entrance to the VA clinic, the guards tell him to empty his pockets, and he does. That’s when things go south.
The VA police officers then tell Olivia to put his ID in the bucket. He informs them that his ID is in the bucket, but they refused to let him through. For several minutes, Olivia exchanged words with the officers, explaining that his ID was indeed in the bucket.
As a guard approaches Olivia as he is about to walk through the detector, the alarm goes off, and the elderly man is swarmed by cops. They grab the 71-year-old man by the neck and throw him to the ground.
According to KVIA, Oliva says he was stunned, he was scared and hurt. The guards, employed by the VA and considered the clinic’s police, cuff him, and take him to a side room where questioning continues. All the while, Oliva says he doesn’t understand why he’s being treated so aggressively in the very place where he seeks care.
“Just to spend one year in a combat zone, and lucky to survive, I never, ever came to being hurt so much as I did on this day,” Oliva said.
After he had been assaulted by the officers, Olivia was then charged with disorderly conduct.
“It’s been a constant last three months of nightmares,” Olivia said. “I’ve seen my psychiatrist three times, and he told me my PTSD treatment that he started with me over a year ago just got shot.”
According to KVIA, they reached out to the VA police department for a statement and received the following:
“After the incident on February 16, 2016, the officers involved were interviewed and videotapes of the incident were reviewed by representatives from the Office of Security and Law Enforcement (OS&LE) and Law Enforcement Training Center….The investigators found that the charge of excessive use of force leveled by the Veteran could not be substantiated. Our Police Service takes seriously its role to safeguard our Veterans, family members, volunteers and employees while they are on our campus. Our officers’ focus is to promote a safe and secure environment and prevent criminal activity.”
Since the attack, Olivia has hired attorney Joe Spence and has filed a personal injury suit against the VA.