News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Keller Police Chief Apologizes For Arrest That Led To A Lawsuit Against Two Officers

A bearded man sits on the sidewalk, face clenched in pain, with police officers holding his shoulders.
Keller Police
/
In body camera footage, Keller police can be seen pepper spraying Marco Puente while he filmed his son's traffic stop. He's now suing the officers involved.

A Keller man was arrested, pepper-sprayed and denied medical attention while he filmed a traffic stop involving his son in August. The police chief found one of the officers involved guilty of misconduct, and he's now addressing the situation publicly.

The Keller police chief apologized publicly on Tuesday for an arrest that led to a lawsuit against two of his officers.

A Keller man named Marco Puente is suing officers Blake Shimanek and Ankit Tomer for their conduct during an Aug. 15 traffic stop involving his son. The city released body camera footage that shows the officers pinning Puente to the ground and pepper spraying him while he filmed the traffic stop from across the street.

The lawsuit also alleges that Shimanek racially profiled Puente's son, who is Hispanic. In his description of the incident, Shimanek wrote that he believed there would be weapons or drugs in Puente’s son’s car, but he did not find either.

The lawsuit states that Keller Police Chief Brad Fortune apologized to Puente two days after the incident, which happened in August. Fortune also demoted Shimanek from sergeant to officer, with the opportunity to reapply in one year. Tomer was not disciplined.

Speaking before the City Council on Tuesday, Fortune said he regrets Puente's arrest.

"It has tarnished the hard work and effort we put in building trust within our community," he said.

He also said that for Shimanek's safety, and because of community concerns, Shimanek has been temporarily removed from uniformed patrol duty.

Several community members who spoke before the City Council on Tuesday wondered why Shimanek and Tomer haven't been fired.

Keller resident Mike Carbone, who described himself as a "proud supporter of our police," said the arrest has sullied the city's reputation.

"For something like this to happen in our city, that we love so much, it’s an embarrassment,” he said.

For Mayor Armin Mizani, Tuesday's meeting was his first-ever City Council meeting as mayor. He was sworn in on Dec. 17, and he said he learned about the August arrest about 24 hours later.

Mizani released the body camera and dash cam footage in a statement on Dec. 23, for transparency's sake, following a briefing from Fortune, Mizani said.

He told the public on Tuesday that such incidents "cannot and will not be tolerated."

"I'm confident that if we work together, we can turn this experience into a positive outcome for everyone, and I am committed to that effort," he said.

Fortune said there will be two town hall meetings, one on January 11 and another on January 21, to further discuss the incident.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at msuarez@kera.org. You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you..