Mathias Ometu, 33, was out for a jog on Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas, when he was approached by police, arrested, and shoved into the back of a patrol car. Police have admitted that Ometu is not the criminal suspect they were looking for.
Mathias Ometu and his father Victor Ometu. (Photo: KENS 5 YouTube screenshot)
When Ometu was approached by police at around 2 p.m. while out jogging on Aug. 25, he refused to provide officers with his name and date of birth. According to Texas law, it is legal for an individual to withhold this information from police if they are not arrested or operating a motor vehicle at the time.
San Antonio police were looking for an armed suspect who had been involved in a felony family violence call nearby and said Ometu matched the suspect’s description.
“The information that they relayed out to other officers responding to the scene was that the male had fled the location and was wearing a bright green shirt and shorts,” an SAPD spokesperson said. Ometu can be seen wearing a light green T-shirt and shorts in a cellphone video a bystander shot of the man’s encounter with the police.
Following a verbal exchange, Ometu was handcuffed and told to get into the patrol car. Officers say that during this time, Ometu became “aggressive,” so they detained him.
Two officers claim Ometu kicked them during the struggle.
The female victim of the family violence incident arrived at the scene and confirmed to officers that Ometu was not the man who had assaulted her.
However, Ometu was still transported to San Antonio Municipal Court, where officers discovered his identity, and placed him under arrest for two counts of assaulting an officer.
Mathias Ometu. (Photo: KENS 5 YouTube Screenshot)
Ometu has no criminal record. His father, Victor Ometu, responded to video footage of his son’s arrest, which was taken by a witness named Jennifer Rodriguez, saying: “It was a very painful experience of watching it. Extremely painful.”
He says he cannot remember a time when his son has interacted with police before.
Victor Maas, the boyfriend of Rodriguez, spoke critically of the officers’ actions. “It reaffirmed that cops do not de-escalate situations,” he said. It was shocking how quickly they wanted to get into a fight with a fellow citizen, and how they used their badge and guns to escalate the situation.”
Rodriguez said Ometu’s only crime was “jogging while Black.”
On Thursday, Aug. 27, the police department issued a statement saying the incident was under review. Sgt. Michelle Ramos, an SAPD spokeswoman, said the whole situation could have been prevented had Ometu cooperated with the officers, and accused critics of being “hypersensitive.”
“I understand that everyone is hypersensitive with everything going on in the country. The officers legally detained the individual and if he believes that officers stopped him for no apparent reason — he can always file a complaint with our Internal Affairs Unit,” Ramos wrote in an email.
The San Antonio Express-News reported that when Ometu asked to have an attorney appointed on his behalf during an court appearance shortly after he was charged, the judge assigned him a lawyer who had died in 2011, a situation that was rectified after the newspaper inquired about the appointment. Ometu posted bail Thursday after spending two days at Bexer County Jail.