EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A man who is homeless and disabled says he was assaulted by El Paso Police Department officers on Friday afternoon after being reported for dancing.
Manuel Luna, who goes by “Shorty,” says he heard music playing outside a business on East Mills and felt inspired to move. He began dancing along the curb and parallel parking spaces.
“I started dancing with my dog, and I didn’t think there’d be anything wrong,” Luna tells KTSM News.
He says the parking meter officials ordered him to stop, then called the EPPD when Luna did not comply.
“They beat me up,” he says. “My head hurts and they twisted my hand, bad. I don’t know, I just wanted to dance.”
Downtown business owners captured footage of the dancing and the violent incident, where you can see Luna dancing with his dog, Ojos. Next, Luna is surrounded by police officers and forced to the ground.
The video footage shows someone who appears to be a plain clothes officer – with handcuffs and sidearm visible – stomping on Luna’s foot/ankle area.
Luna was transported to University Medical Center where he was treated for injuries sustained to his head and body, and was also treated for a seizure he had as a result of the altercation.
Business owners and Luna say this is one in a series of negative encounters between the Downtown community and city officials.
Storm Craig, a business owner on East Mills, tells KTSM that Luna was being cooperative with EPPD officers.
“He was already on his knees with his hands up,” he says.
Craig says that he spoke with police, who said that parking enforcement made a claim that Luna assaulted them but was ignored when he told EPPD he had video footage to the contrary.
Luna says he has been working to get back on his feet for him and Ojos, and is seeking assistance finding a transitional living center that will accept the both of them.
“I didn’t think it was right of them to do that,” says Luna. “I didn’t do anything wrong for them to do that.”
When asked what kind of support he is in need of, he said support for his dog.
“I don’t have a car, so I can’t take him for rides. Maybe if someone could take him for a ride to get his nails trimmed,” he said.
A GoFundMe campaign was created to help Luna and Ojos.
Saturday afternoon, officials with the El Paso Police Department released the following statement:
A video is circulating on social media that depicts officers subduing an individual and placing him in handcuffs. The El Paso Police Department is aware of the video and is reviewing the incident. No further information will be available as this incident is being reviewed.
We will continue to follow this story closely, and provide updates as information and details warrant.