EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The Borderland community is responding to a scene that’s become all too common across the country: a civilian, thrown to the ground and surrounded by law enforcement. But where there is violence, there is also valor and the emergence of the resiliency of the human (and canine) spirit.
KTSM 9 News caught up with Manuel “Shorty” Luna and his dog, Ojos, who is a registered service animal, after the two were allegedly assaulted by the El Paso Police Department following a complaint made by local parking enforcement.
According to Luna and eyewitnesses, Luna was reported for dancing in streets on Friday when EPPD officers subdued him, in what video footage shows is a violent encounter.
At one point, a plain clothes officer appears to stomp on Luna’s feet. As as result of the encounter, Luna says he suffered a seizure.
Downtown residents and business owners tells KTSM that this is another example of City parking officials operating with a level of impunity that’s not only bad for business, but also for efforts to revitalize Downtown.
Luna and business owners say the parking officials have a habit of picking on the local homeless population then reporting them to EPPD for violent or aggressive behavior that’s reached a boiling point.
“Go do your job,” says Luna. “Quit instigating and leave me alone.”
KTSM reached out to the City of El Paso with questions regarding the City’s parking enforcement officials but did not hear back by deadline. This story will be updated upon response.
Over the weekend, a GoFundMe campaign was created to help Luna and Ojos out of living on the streets and into a home of their own.
KTSM was with Shorty when he found out the good news.
“We raised over $8,200 so you can get your own place,” Storm Craig, co-owner of Grown Together, told Luna on Monday.
“We’re going to get you a nice cozy spot,” Craig added.
Luna, upon hearing the news, immediately began to weep and thanked his friends and the community.
“This is family,” he said. “I love you all, thank you.”
The GoFundMe campaign will run for a month, at which point Luna and Ojos will be given support in securing a safe home.
Luna is inviting the community to his housewarming party when the time comes.
“Anyone who wants to come — you can come!”
Luna says the community has been dropping off stuffed toys for Ojos, which the strong dog loves to create a mess with.
“I can’t wait to come home and see a mess because he’s been playing all day,” says Luna.