An El Paso civilian review board cleared Officer Raul Ramirez of an excessive force charge regarding the April arrest of two KVIA newsmen. The review board met on Sept. 24 and made its recommendations after interviewing Ramirez and reviewing documents. The board’s report, issued Wednesday, found that calling Ramirez’s conduct “unlawful” was inaccurate, and instead ruled that his actions were “unprofessional.”
KVIA reporter Darren Hunt and cameraman Ric Dupont were at the scene of an overturned tractor trailer on April 20th, when they were arrested for “interfering with public duties.” The board considers this probable cause, given reports that Dupont and Hunt had been asked to move multiple times because their truck and equipment were interfering with rescue operations. Ultimately, the board found that Ramirez, “upset over the situation,” acted unprofessionally after taking Hunt into custody. (Video of arrest here)
Civilian review boards are rarely used in El Paso. The six-member panel was made up of KDBC News Director Scott Pickey, KINT News Director Zoltan Csanyi, El Paso Times Publisher Ray Stafford, lawyers Jack T. Chapman and Kevin E. Shannon and former news reporter and Sheriff’s Department public information officer, Rick Glancey.
Officer Ramirez, who was demoted from sergeant to officer and suspended in May for slapping a student in the process of arresting him during a fight near a school last November, will be suspended for 11 days as a result of the board’s findings.