Jose Palomares, an off-duty cop, was moonlighting as a security guard at a homeless services center in Fort Worth when a dispute arose over $20. Officer Palomares chose to intervene—immediately accusing the man who believed he’d had $20 stolen from him of being a drug dealer. After calling in the drug dogs and conducting an illegal search, Palomares failed to find sufficient drugs to justify his accusation. Instead of letting the man go, Palomares then decided to pressure his arrestee into becoming an informant. Police Accountability Report discusses the shocking footage and what it tells us about the ways police wield their power against the poor.

Production: Taya Graham, Stephen Janis
Post-Production: Stephen Janis, Cameron Granadino


Transcript

The following is a rushed transcript and may contain errors. A proofread version will be made available as soon as possible.

Taya Graham:

Hello, my name is Taya Graham and welcome to the Police Accountability Report. As I always make clear, this show has a single purpose, holding the politically powerful institution of policing accountable. And to do so, we don’t just focus on the bad behavior of individual cops. Instead, we examine the system that makes bad policing possible. And today we’ll achieve that goal by showing you, not telling you, why police need to be watched, because the shocking video you are seeing now reveals how police abuse their power to harass the poor, and when confronted about their overreach, turn to arrest to shut down dissent.

It even depicts how police can turn the power of law enforcement to recruit the downtrodden into a weapon against others. All of this we will break down for you of this harrowing encounter caught on body worn camera, but before we get started, I want you to know that if you have video evidence of police misconduct, please email it to us privately at par@therealnews.com, or reach out to me directly on Facebook or Twitter @tayasbaltimore, and we might be able to investigate for you, and please like share and comment on our videos.

It helps us get the word out and it can even help our guests, and of course you know I read your comments and appreciate them. You see those little hearts I give out down there, and I’ve even started doing a comment of the week to show you how much I appreciate your thoughts and to show what a great community we have. And of course, we have a Patreon Accountability Report. So if you feel inspired to donate, please do. We don’t run ads or take corporate dollars, so anything you can spare is truly appreciated. All right, I’ve gotten that out of the way. Now, quite often when we receive body camera footage from a viewer, it depicts a dynamic that is overlooked by both the mainstream media and even some body camera channels that simply post it without comments.

And that is the pernicious power imbalance between cops and the rest of us, an expansive sense of their influence over our lives that cops often display in seemingly routine encounters that is not fully understood and requires more examination. And no arrest embodies this idea more than the body camera footage I’m showing you right now. It depicts a cop hired by a community center detaining a man after a dispute over $20, but it also shows how police can quash dissent through an illegal arrest, coerce the impoverished to become a carceral tool, and deploy unlimited resources against the powerless to further the reach of the law enforcement industrial complex with often destructive consequences.

This story starts in Fort Worth, Texas in June of 2022. There, an off-duty Fort Worth cop named Jose Palomares was moonlighting for a Texas mission, a provider of services for homeless people when a dispute erupted over $20. That’s right, 20 bucks. The officer who cited drug use at the facility for his subsequent actions decided to turn the conflict into an opportunity, detaining the man accused of wanting his money back and trying to force him to consent to a search. Let’s watch.

Officer Palomares:

So, basically I’ve just been informed that you’re the local drug dealer up here in Dillon Doe.

Speaker 3:

No, I’m not.

Officer Palomares:

So, it doesn’t matter what you tell me. I’m going to do my job, okay?

Speaker 3:

Am I being arrested?

Officer Palomares:

No, not right now.

Speaker 3:

I haven’t done anything.

Officer Palomares:

So now, do you have any drugs on you?

Speaker 3:

No.

Officer Palomares:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

I just come down here to get my mail at the [inaudible 00:03:18].

Officer Palomares:

So again-

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:03:20].

Officer Palomares:

I don’t think you’re listening to me. You can tell me you ain’t got nothing all day long, but now I’ve already had… And I already know that you’re the guy for selling drugs and methamphetamines and we don’t tolerate that.

Speaker 3:

I am not. I don’t even do that.

Officer Palomares:

So, it doesn’t matter what you tell me, sir. I’m just letting you know what I know.

Taya Graham:

Now, I want you to remember what the cop says at this point for reference later. He states, “I already know you’re selling meth or a drug dealer.” He doesn’t provide evidence or actual proof. He merely makes the declaration to coerce the person he detained into relinquishing his constitutional rights, a push he continues to make without evidence. Take another look.

Officer Palomares:

And I’m going to get a drug dog to come up here and check, okay? Just so you know. All right, so I’m going to do my job. I’m going to check.

Speaker 3:

I haven’t done anything, sir.

Officer Palomares:

Okay. All right, sir. Are you on probation or parole?

Speaker 3:

No.

Officer Palomares:

Do you have any warrants?

Speaker 4:

[inaudible 00:04:13].

Speaker 3:

I’m clean. I haven’t done anything, sir.

Speaker 4:

[inaudible 00:04:18].

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:04:19] he stole $20 from me. He’s going to say anything.

Taya Graham:

Now, the person in question does not give in. So, the officer ups the stakes, using a casual movement as a pretext for creating what I would best call a narrative of escalation. What that means is because the man is refusing the search, the officer overstates the facts to force compliance. Watch.

Officer Palomares:

Robert 336. Have a seat. Sit your butt down.

Speaker 3:

I was going to show you here what I got.

Speaker 5:

[inaudible 00:04:44].

Speaker 3:

I haven’t done anything, sir.

Officer Palomares:

I don’t care what you say.

Speaker 5:

[inaudible 00:04:48].

Officer Palomares:

What are you trying to get up for when I ask you to sit down?

Speaker 3:

I was going to show you, because [inaudible 00:04:53]-

Officer Palomares:

I don’t trust you, sir. No, you’re not going to stand up and try to fight me and take off running and try to hurt me and hurt yourself. I don’t know you. I don’t know you, sir.

Speaker 3:

I’ve never caused any problems [inaudible 00:05:00]-

Officer Palomares:

And I’ve asked you to have a seat. Why? For your safety and for my safety.

Taya Graham:

Now, one fact worth highlighting at this point of the encounter is the faulty premise of this officer’s fact finding. At this point, the officer can cite no direct evidence that the man was stealing. There’s also no evidence that he committed an assault, just an alleged threat. There are no injuries, no witnesses to an assault, no witnesses have seen the man sell a single gram of meth. But still, listening to the officer, you would think he already had an airtight case, which is why his next move is even more troubling. He threatens the man with a drug-sniffing dog.

Officer Palomares:

Well, you’re up for dealing narcotics, that is not going to be tolerated.

Speaker 3:

I’m not. I haven’t done [inaudible 00:05:37]-

Officer Palomares:

That’s okay, I got a drug dog coming. That’s okay. I’m going to have a drug dog coming. So, I’ve already asked for your permission to let me check. You said no, we’re going to go another route. That’s all there is to it.

Speaker 3:

You can search me fine, but the thing is, I don’t understand why. Tell me the reason why.

Officer Palomares:

Are you going to tell me why when I just told you why?

Speaker 3:

That’s not a reason. I haven’t done anything. That’s going on [inaudible 00:05:58]-

Officer Palomares:

I just told you why. So, what part of why-

Speaker 3:

What makes you [inaudible 00:06:01]-

Officer Palomares:

Okay, you ask me one more time and I’m going to tell you the same thing. Ask me why again. Why? Because somebody says you’re dealing drugs out here, that’s why.

Taya Graham:

So, I want to point out something here that does warrant more attention, a fact that will become more disturbing as this video unfolds. Simply put, the amount of time and resources dedicated to an incident that was neither violent, nor a truly brazen crime is stunning. In fact, crime statistics show for example, in just three months in 2024, Fort Worth had over 900 burglaries and 18 homicides, serious crimes that should be the focus of police attention, but that constant jump rate of crime fails to halt the officer’s apparent need to find a way to put this man in jail. Efforts that include, let’s say exaggerating the facts to make his case. Check it out.

Speaker 5:

10-4, item 217 is running code. Do you need him to continue code?

Officer Palomares:

No, ma’am. You can have him reduce. He sat back down and he was just trying to take off on me and call for help. Dealing drugs is illegal. Do you not understand that?

Speaker 3:

I’m not dealing any drugs.

Officer Palomares:

So, somebody tells me you’re dealing drugs, I have to come and investigate.

Speaker 3:

He wasn’t standing there talking to me [inaudible 00:07:02]-

Officer Palomares:

Sir, what are you doing? Sir, what are you doing? You’re not making any sense. You’re not making any sense whatsoever.

Speaker 3:

This guy’s here. [inaudible 00:07:10]-

Officer Palomares:

It doesn’t matter what you say, sir. It doesn’t matter.

Speaker 3:

Why?

Officer Palomares:

It doesn’t matter what you say.

Speaker 3:

Why?

Officer Palomares:

I’m going to do my job.

Speaker 3:

I didn’t do anything.

Officer Palomares:

You’re just getting aggressive with me, that’s all you’re doing.

Speaker 3:

No, I’m not.

Officer Palomares:

Yeah, you are.

Speaker 3:

I have not gotten aggressive with you [inaudible 00:07:21]-

Taya Graham:

Seriously? Did the man who’s been sitting against the wall try to take off? Is the officer so unsure of his case that he had to stretch the facts? But now the second officer decides to join in and escalate the efforts to smear the detainee by accusing him of having, wait for it, having cold beer. Take a look.

Officer Palomares:

He’s a local drug dealer over here, apparently. He sells meth.

Speaker 3:

I’m not a drug dealer.

Officer Palomares:

He’s got meth on him. He don’t want anybody to check his stuff.

Speaker 3:

The guy owes $20.

Officer Palomares:

So, I want a K-9 to come up here. We’ve been having a problem with meth up here.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:07:49] drug dealer.

Officer Palomares:

Say again?

Speaker 6:

Did you already find something?

Officer Palomares:

No, but he’s got it right here… Dude, they’ve already dimed him out inside that he’s out here.

Speaker 3:

One guy.

Officer Palomares:

Sir, close your mouth. Sir, close your mouth. So, apparently he’s threatened one guy [inaudible 00:08:01]-

Speaker 6:

It’s too early for beer, too.

Officer Palomares:

So, there was a guy that he just threatened-

Speaker 6:

It’s too early for that.

Speaker 3:

I just come over here and eat breakfast, that’s all. What did he tell you?

Officer Palomares:

Hey, ma’am, this is Robert 336. Do you have a K-9 available that can make my location?

Speaker 5:

Can I get a visual [inaudible 00:08:14]?

Officer Palomares:

Yes, ma’am, drug dog.

Speaker 3:

But there’s no reason to call a dog, that’s crazy.

Officer Palomares:

Sir, yes there is. You’re not going to tell me what I’m not going to do, sir.

Speaker 3:

I’m not trying to tell you, but I’m just saying [inaudible 00:08:24]-

Officer Palomares:

If you take off and get off running-

Speaker 3:

It’s not going to be-

Officer Palomares:

You’re going to be evading detention. You’re going to be arrested.

Speaker 3:

I’m not running.

Taya Graham:

Just a note, drug-sniffing dogs are notoriously inaccurate. Statistical analysis puts their accuracy rate somewhere between 40 and 60%, an error that would give pause to anyone subject to it, especially because if the dog makes a mistake, you may have to go to jail and wait for your day in court to prove your innocence. Still, at this point, the officer’s inability to intimidate the man into consenting to a search boiled over. That’s because despite his outwardly calm demeanor, the officer again paints a decidedly false picture, just watch.

Officer Palomares:

Okay, I’m having them get ahold of a drug dog. So yeah, he’s putting up a fight. I’m going to get that guy’s information real fast.

Speaker 6:

Okay.

Officer Palomares:

So if he tries to take off, just hit me on the radio, and I’ll run out here real quick, because he already tried that once already apparently.

Taya Graham:

Now, this is a point where things get really interesting. That’s because without the benefit of due process, the officer has the man criminally trespassed, meaning he cannot enter or be near the premises again, a move that seemingly makes the officer angry.

Speaker 5:

I’m on my way.

Officer Palomares:

So, Dora’s going to come out here and advise you that you can’t come up anymore. So, you’re going to be criminally trespassed.

Speaker 3:

What? I didn’t do anything.

Officer Palomares:

And you’re still detained, and I got a drug dog coming up here.

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:09:45].

Officer Palomares:

If I were you, the second you try to get up and be slick, and so if I were you, don’t-

Speaker 3:

[inaudible 00:09:50].

Officer Palomares:

Listen to me very carefully, sir, because ain’t nobody playing games with you.

Speaker 3:

Why are you yelling at me?

Officer Palomares:

Because you’re interrupting me and talking over me, that’s why I have to get louder with you, because you don’t listen very well. At this point, if you take off, jump up, take off running, and fight, you will have additional charges. Do you understand me sir?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I haven’t [inaudible 00:10:08]-

Officer Palomares:

Okay, so if you take off, it will be evading detention.

Speaker 3:

I haven’t even tried [inaudible 00:10:11]-

Officer Palomares:

I just want to be clear with you. I’m being very clear with you since the time we started talking. I’m not playing any games with you. I’ve been very direct with you and very straight-up with you.

Speaker 3:

Why are you yelling?

Officer Palomares:

The only one playing games is you.

Speaker 3:

I didn’t do anything.

Officer Palomares:

And doing illegal activity, sir.

Speaker 3:

I didn’t do any illegal activity.

Officer Palomares:

It doesn’t matter, sir. I got a drug dog coming up here. We have the right to do that. The police has the right to investigate. That’s what we do.

Taya Graham:

Then, something unexpected happens, an incident that perhaps is more revealing than it would seem on the surface. A cop watcher arrives, specifically Manuel Mata. And in this case, not just a cop watcher, but an independent observer, someone who turns the focus around onto the police and puts them under scrutiny for their actions. Mind you, not with a drug dog or threat of arrest, but with a simple cell phone camera. Take a look and notice how police respond when the spotlight turns on them.

Officer Palomares:

Sir, we got a guy with drugs here, sir. Sir, you cannot be here in the spot. You can record over there. Sir, you got to record over there.

Manuel Mata:

What’s your name and your badge number?

Officer Palomares:

Sir, you’re going to be arrested for interfering.

Manuel Mata:

What is your name and your badge number? If you touch me, you will lose qualified immunity. I’m on the public sidewalk.

Officer Palomares:

Stand on that side over there, sir.

Manuel Mata:

No, I don’t have to.

Officer Palomares:

So, you’re interfering.

Manuel Mata:

No. Call your supervisor. If you’re going to put your hands on me, call your supervisor, because this is the sidewalk.

Officer Palomares:

I’ve already asked you to move.

Manuel Mata:

Nah, I’m not trying to hear that. You have to understand people’s rights.

Officer Palomares:

I’ve already asked you to move, sir.

Manuel Mata:

Nah, go ahead, do your thing.

Officer Palomares:

I’ve already asked you to move.

Manuel Mata:

Call your supervisor.

Officer Palomares:

I’ve already asked you to move.

Manuel Mata:

Call your supervisor. I don’t listen to unlawful and illegal orders.

Officer Palomares:

You’re going to step over here-

Manuel Mata:

Call your supervisor. You just threatened me with arrest.

Officer Palomares:

Sir, you cannot step over here.

Manuel Mata:

No, call your supervisor.

Officer Palomares:

Put your hands behind your back.

Manuel Mata:

No, don’t touch me.

Officer Palomares:

Put your hands behind your back.

Manuel Mata:

Don’t touch me.

Officer Palomares:

Put your hands behind your back. Put your hands [inaudible 00:11:53]-

Manuel Mata:

[inaudible 00:11:53].

Officer Palomares:

Put your hands behind back.

Manuel Mata:

Go ahead.

Officer Palomares:

I got to stop doing what I’m doing, because you’re interfering, you’re going to be handcuffed.

Manuel Mata:

I’m First Amendment protected [inaudible 00:12:02]-

Officer Palomares:

I understand that, you can record, but if I have to stop to do what I’m doing-

Manuel Mata:

Call supervisor.

Officer Palomares:

… To take care of you.

Manuel Mata:

Call your supervisor.

Officer Palomares:

Come over and have a seat.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not sitting down nowhere.

Taya Graham:

That’s right, the cops respond with an arrest, never mind that Mata was exercising his First Amendment rights by holding the officers accountable for their actions and forget that Mata was documenting their use or possibly abuse of power by trying to coerce a man to give up his constitutional rights. No, Mata’s camera was the real problem. Forget about the ineffective use of law enforcement powers, and boy, do these cops punish him again, falsifying the circumstances in real-time to threaten Mata, just watch.

Manuel Mata:

Don’t worry, man. I’m not moving nowhere, man. You’re hurting my fucking hand, dog.

Officer Palomares:

Stop pulling away from me, sir.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not. I am not pulling away.

Officer Palomares:

Stop pulling away from pulling away from me.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not, stop lying.

Officer Palomares:

Stop escalating-

Manuel Mata:

Stop lying, I’m not escalating.

Officer Palomares:

Stop escalating.

Manuel Mata:

The only one who escalated anything was you.

Officer Palomares:

Stop escalating.

Manuel Mata:

You escalated everything by putting your hands on me [inaudible 00:13:03]-

Officer Palomares:

Stop fighting.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not fighting.

Officer Palomares:

Stop fighting.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not fighting, dude.

Officer Palomares:

Stop fighting.

Manuel Mata:

Stop being aggressive.

Officer Palomares:

Stop fighting.

Manuel Mata:

Stop being aggressive. I’m sitting right here on the floor where you illegally threw me on the ground. I’m not violent, I’m not aggressive, that’s you. You’re the one that’s aggressive and violent. You’re the one that doesn’t understand the law. You did it based on your feelings and your camera… Stop doing that with my hands.

Officer Palomares:

Stop fighting, sir.

Manuel Mata:

I’m not moving.

Officer Palomares:

Stop pulling away.

Manuel Mata:

Stop hurting my hands. And this officer that failed to render me aid, you’re all wrong. Hey, can you get this motherfucker off me, man? What is he doing? I need you all supervisor right now.

Officer Palomares:

I got a narcotics investigation going on.

Manuel Mata:

I need your supervisor right now.

Officer Palomares:

So, he’s trying to interfere.

Manuel Mata:

No, I’m not.

Officer Palomares:

[inaudible 00:13:51].

Manuel Mata:

It’s not illegal to film you, dog.

Officer Palomares:

He’s going to keep yelling.

Manuel Mata:

And I need the ambulance.

Speaker 8:

I know [inaudible 00:13:55].

Officer Palomares:

I appreciate that.

Manuel Mata:

I need the ambulance.

Taya Graham:

And now, finally after all of these protracted efforts to get this man to consent to a search, including the threat of a possibly inaccurate drug-sniffing dog, arrest, criminal trespassing, unsustained accusations of drug dealing, and violence, the arrest of a cop watcher, and some would say violent use of force, after all of this, what are the results? What is the outcome of this extensive and protracted investigation? What finally happens? Well, simply put, nothing. Nothing at all. And you just take a listen if you don’t believe me.

Officer Palomares:

The front door Ring, they added that Ring. They added cameras all around, just this side doesn’t have one. I’m going to tell her to add one here.

Speaker 9:

It’s maybe a gram.

Officer Palomares:

Okay.

Speaker 9:

And that’s like personal use. I don’t think he’s… He might be splitting his personal use with somebody, but I doubt he’s dealing it out. What we’re probably going to do is we’re going to suspect case him, see if it’s going to work a little bit.

Officer Palomares:

Cool, yeah.

Speaker 9:

[inaudible 00:14:55] cut the warrant, he’ll get a possession case after that, but he probably has some good information about what’s going on. He just didn’t want talk in front of everybody.

Officer Palomares:

Whatever you all can do, I appreciate it, man.

Speaker 9:

So, what we do need to probably do is [inaudible 00:15:07] transporting him to jail, but take him over to the [inaudible 00:15:12] sector and we’ll try and do an interview with him out there.

Officer Palomares:

Okay, I appreciate you. Thank you.

Taya Graham:

That’s right, the alleged drug dealer does not have enough in his possession to actually deal. So, instead of charging him for being a drug dealer, the cops resort to taking him to the station as if he were under arrest to try to glean some more information from him about, you guessed it, drug dealing. In other words, convert him to a criminal informant. And for the record, creating a criminal informant is a very unregulated and opaque process, and becoming one is an incredibly dangerous occupation to be forced into. If you want to learn more, start by researching Rachel’s Law.

But there is so much more to this story than a failed attempt to turn a small-time drug user into a criminal informant, behind the scenes details that turn this case of bad policing into an example of law enforcement malfeasance. And for more on that, I will be talking to cop watcher Manuel Mata, who was arrested at the scene and has been fighting the case ever since, but first, I’m joined by my reporting partner, Stephen Janis, who’s been reaching out to police for comment and investigating the details of the case and the circumstances surrounding it. Stephen, thank you so much for joining me.

Stephen Janis:

Taya, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Taya Graham:

So, what are Fort Worth Police saying about the arrest of Mata and the detention of the man for suspicion of drug dealing?

Stephen Janis:

Well, they’re not saying much to us. We sent an email with a couple of questions. One being, how do they approach cop watchers? How do they approach major drug investigations? Although, we did overhear on the body camera that there’s a lot of talk about cop watchers. There’s audio that we did not put in this particular show about how they were aware of Mata, how they’re aware of other cop watchers, how they’re like, “I can deal with it,” and how they talked about in roll call of ways of suppressing cop watching. So, very disturbing that First Amendment activists are on police radar in such a significant way.

Taya Graham:

Now, this community shelter provides food and household items for people who are unhoused. What can you tell me about it and why were they hiring police officers?

Stephen Janis:

Well, this is exactly what we talk about in the show all the time, using police to solve complex social problems, which is a result of massive inequality. People there are unhoused, they have drug addiction problems, they have all the problems that come along with being impoverished in this country. And yet, what do they do? They hire a police officer. I think it’s an antithetical to the cause of helping people overcome these problems rather than arresting them. As we can see in this case, that’s exactly what occurred.

Taya Graham:

This prolonged investigation and subsequent arrest by police are symbolic of the concept, you have termed, blanket criminality. Can you talk about that idea and how it applies here?

Stephen Janis:

Well, as you see, this investigation took multiple officers, took an hour, they tried to call a drug-sniffing dog. They made every effort they could to criminalize the behavior of a single person and then spread it out through the community by involving other people in this. So, really it was like saying, “This whole place is a crime scene and we’re going to sit there and kind of work through it with our police. More police are going to show up, more cop cars. We’re going to arrest a cop watcher, we’re going to detain a man, then take him down to the station for no reason and try to get him to become a criminal informant.” What could be a better example of the criminalization of working class people? It’s why this country has the problems it has, and it’s why police are the worst answer or antidote to this kind of problem, Taya.

Taya Graham:

And now to talk about his arrest, the events leading up to it, and what he has learned since, I’m joined by Manuel Mata himself. Manuel, thank you so much for joining us again. We appreciate it.

Manuel Mata:

Thank you. I’m glad to be here again, to bring you another story of corrupt officials.

Taya Graham:

So, can you describe for us the officer’s interaction with him before you arrived? It seems like the man was detained for nearly 50 minutes. Can you describe a little bit of that interaction at the very beginning?

Manuel Mata:

Yeah, well, when I pulled up, I actually seen a police officer, to me it looked like harassing two people at a shelter. So when I pulled up, I didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t ask them. I just wanted to film. So, it turns out that the guy in the blue shirt was the one that the cop decided was the drug dealer, which he wasn’t, and the debt wasn’t over drugs. He owed him 20 bucks, because he let him borrow it to buy cigarettes and food. So, that’s what he asked him for it. The actual drug dealer was right next to him. And as soon as the cop comes, he tells the drug dealer to leave. So, that’s what I walked up on and they were trying to search his stuff and I never got to see how it ended, only in body camera in trial.

Taya Graham:

So, although the man said he was getting his mail at the mission and just asking for the $20 owed him, Officer Palomares questioned him and insisted he was going to bring a K-9 to sniff him. And the man said, “You know there’s no probable cause. I haven’t done anything wrong.” And the officer said, “I don’t care. Someone told me you’re a drug dealer, sit down, and show me your pockets.” Now, I know you’re not a lawyer, but when you look at this interaction, what do you see? How do you see his rights being violated?

Manuel Mata:

Yeah, and being detained. And see, I didn’t know how long he was sitting there, because to me, I just saw it. I didn’t know the total extent until I got the actual body camera. He had him detained for like 40, 45 minutes, almost an hour before I even got there. So, to me it looked like he was being held against his will. That’s what it looked like to me. And he kept telling him, “Hey, sir, this, that.” And he kept telling him…

Because when I pulled up, he was telling him, “You can search me, but not my stuff.” And then that’s when it all went sideways, when I stood right there, because to me how it seems is like if you don’t want to pay someone, just call the cops, and they’ll take care of it for you. That’s what it looked like to me, because the actual drug dealer, he told him to leave. So, now you’re messing with a guy that the complainant states, “I did not buy drugs from him. I do not do drugs.” But then you hear the officer, “Oh, but you know he sells drugs.” And I’m like, “Wow, that’s all…” Everything looks so wrong the way the guy was looking and how the situation was, and I just tried to capture it on camera and I failed at that.

Taya Graham:

I think you’re being hard on yourself. I don’t think you failed, but one thing I noticed is that the officer says to the man, “You’re getting aggressive with me,” so I’m just going to play a little bit of the video where the officer’s talking to the man saying, “You’re being aggressive.”

Officer Palomares:

So, they dimed him out basically. So, I come in here and talk to him, “Hey, man, look, straight-up, I’m Officer Palomares, blah, blah, blah.” I said, “Why are you talking to me?” I said, “Have a seat.” He tried to get a little aggressive. I said, “Hey, look, I’m talking to you, because you’ve been identified as a guy that’s selling drugs. If you’re not, let me know who you are.” I said, “It’s not going to be tolerated.”

Taya Graham:

So, when I look at this video, and I want your opinion, does this look like aggressive behavior to you?

Manuel Mata:

How do you try to talk to one, “Hey, sir. Hey, sir,” and then just to resort to aggression, violence, and I have to control you. None of it made sense to me. I don’t understand how someone walking up… And then like the guy was, he was asserting his rights to be safe and secure in his property and papers, and it’s like the cop wasn’t trying to hear it, because in his mind, he caught a big drug dealer, and that’s all he cared about. He didn’t care about his rights or the process of criminal procedures. It just went out the window, because this officer had it in his mind that he created a good enough story, and I just totally disagreed.

Taya Graham:

Just to clarify, I want your thoughts on the accusation that this man was a drug dealer, considering that this information was provided by people in the mission who can be telling the truth, or they could have been trying to settle a personal score over owing money or they could have even been referring to a different person as a dealer. Does this concern you that someone could just point a finger at you and bring down the police on you without any evidence?

Manuel Mata:

Yes, but you know what was the most troubling to me when I saw it was the fact that them two people did not identify the man in the blue shirt as the drug dealer. The man said it was the other guy in the white shirt, same thing as the woman. She said, “It’s the other guy in the white shirt.” And even the officer afterwards, he kept trying to explain to the drug investigators, “He’s the drug dealer, and there’s another one right there with the white shirt.” So, I’m confused as to what your job and what you’re doing, because this man’s telling you, “I barely have $5 to my name. I’m on a bike.” He has a cooler and he has a BB gun for rats, because he lives outdoors. Not only that, he’s at a homeless shelter trying to get assistance. Now, that is not a drug dealer.

Taya Graham:

So, another thing that stood out to me is that the officers talk to the woman who’s running the mission, and he says to her that even if he doesn’t find drugs on him, and even if the K-9 doesn’t sniff anything, he’s still a dealer and should still be trespassed. Do you think it’s fair that this man who needs the services of a Christian mission should be denied them due to suspicion that hasn’t even been validated or adjudicated?

Manuel Mata:

No, because that’s not what those places are designed for. And then plus, this cop has no authority to trespass anyone. And what the problem is here is what was exposed in the 97-page report that was done on the Fort Worth Police Department where relationships: husband, wife, boyfriend and girlfriend. This is one of those scenarios where he is dating a woman that’s working there, and this is the constant harassment that these two do to innocent people, because all he has to say, “I don’t want him here.” The girlfriend said, “Okay, babe.” He trespassed me, and I wasn’t never on the property. I never set foot on the property. I was on the public sidewalk the whole time, and he convinced a lady to trespass me. So, this is the problem we’re facing. When you hurt someone’s feelings and you’re in a position of power, you should lose it, because you’re dealing with a people with emotions, not the law, not human decency. And basically above all, not Christian-like, because that place is funded through God’s money. So, for him not to even understand what it means to help others, not hurt them.

Taya Graham:

So, I was watching the video and about 50 minutes into this man’s detention, you arrive and you ask the officer to identify himself. He refuses and immediately says, “You’re interfering with the investigation,” and barely one minute into the conversation you were in cuffs. Were you surprised by this?

Manuel Mata:

Actually surprised, no. But kind of disappointed? Yes, because at that point I had thought I made it clear about what my intent were, because my intent is never to harass, interfere, disrupt, or impede anything. And the fact that they’re able to say that, because you’re recording and you take my attention away, which is not in the penal code, it doesn’t state, they took my attention away, and this is what is frustrating because all I’m doing is holding a camera.

Taya Graham:

So I was wondering, do you feel you were treated differently, because you’re a known cop watcher and activist, as opposed to someone else who might’ve been standing there filming? I witnessed how you were singled out at the trial of Aaron Dean while you were there supporting the family of Atatiana Jefferson. So, I’m wondering if you feel you were treated differently, and what rights of yours you feel were violated.

Manuel Mata:

Since I’ve been doing this, I know for a fact that automatically I’m going to be treated differently, looked at differently, and even it’s just a whole different vibe that I get from these officers, because during roll call, you hear them. Whenever I hear a cop say that he was mentioned at roll call, they always explain this, “He harasses and films us.” And then I’ll give you a quote from a Homeland Security report that was done on me by a South Division police officer sergeant, that they know that I film and that I go and film trying to get officers to violate my rights. So, if this is something you all are assuming, wouldn’t it be something that makes you all and not even participate in what you’re all witnessing on this video? But it doesn’t stop them, it encourages them, because they want to be the one that says, “I got him.”

Taya Graham:

So, it looks like the officer, when he’s putting his cuffs on you, it seems like you’re being thrown to the ground. I hear you saying, “Stop pulling all my hands.” And it looks like he was getting rough with you, but it’s kind of hard to see. Can you tell me what we were missing?

Manuel Mata:

See, what happened was he wanted me to sit down and I told him, “No, I’m not going to. We’re just going to stand here, whatever.” And he stated that I was getting aggressive with him by telling him, “No, we’re just going to stand right here.” I never pulled away from him, I never ran, I never did anything. And when he grabbed me by my shoulder, he yanked me down and he literally pulled me off of my feet and I landed butt first on the ground, and then that’s why I told him, I’m going to stand back up. See? And what made me mad is the officer that’s on duty turned around, so it wouldn’t be caught what he just did to me on his body camera. And if you look behind him, that’s what you’re going to see. He’s turned around to the guy in front of him the whole time.

Taya Graham:

I believe I hear you request medical, but I know you were taken to the jail instead. Can you tell me how you were treated and if you received any medical treatments?

Manuel Mata:

Yeah, because the whole thing was that whenever he threw me on the ground, he kept doing this. You know how the two cuffs are like this and it has them two little links right here? Well, he was grabbing it right there and doing this. And if you have noticed, my hands are already messed up. So, this whole thing was swollen after… And I told him, “I need medical.” And they were trying to put me in a car. I wasn’t resisting the transport, because they weren’t taking me nowhere. They had to wait for the ambulance to get there and check me. And then when he did, he said, “He’s cleared to go to jail.” When I get to jail, when they take the handcuffs off, my hand is so swollen that I tell the guard, “Look at my stuff.” And they’re like, “What?” So, they take pictures and they send me to the hospital. I go to the hospital, I get treated. They say something about break of skin. I don’t remember what it was, because I didn’t get it.

Taya Graham:

Now, I have to ask you this, but it’s because I know there are going to be some people who will say, you were provocative, you used foul language, and you raised your voice with the officer, and maybe they’ll say that they feel that you were being aggressive or that you were trying to provoke them. How would you respond to someone who would say that?

Manuel Mata:

It is not only our right, it is our obligation to check and balance when someone steps out of their box of control. Now, they used force, they used violence to gain control. I used my words and the tone of my voice to do the same and it’s protected. And second part, if they’re trained to deal with high stressful situations where guns are being pointed at them, a car is flying at them, you mean to tell me that you all passed that type of training where it doesn’t break a sweat to where you all can say me saying a bad word, vulgar, raw, loud is enough to make you all come out of you all skin?

Something’s not adding up right. So to me, why not? Why not cuss at them? Because to me, I’ve been in an environment where I couldn’t let these people disrespect me, because I wouldn’t be able to live in this environment. The way I do it now is like I’m punching them with words. I’m defending myself with the right to say this and that, and I remind them, Houston v. Hill, Glik v. Cummings, Turner v. Driver, all of these cases involve speech that is protected and the most protected speech isn’t favorable. It’s the one that makes people mad and upset. It creates tension.

Taya Graham:

So, I saw there was a conversation between two officers who had conflicting statements on the amount of illegal substances found on the man. One officer said he saw roughly over a gram, maybe just enough for personal use, and then the other officer speaks to the woman and said he had enough for over 100 hits on him? What are these conflicting statements? What am I even seeing here?

Manuel Mata:

See, what happened is the Palomares thinks he’s a drug investigator. So when the real ones get there, they’re not understanding why they were even called in the first place, because they know an addict, they know a buyer when they see one. So they’re left with, okay, this is their only choice, because he’s not a drug dealer. “Why don’t you go ahead and tell us who you bought the product from? Help us help you. You don’t have to just help us. Help you by telling us where you purchased your product from.” And that’s what the man agreed to, because he did not want to go to jail. It was easier for him to tell on someone than go to jail, and that’s exactly what happened, because when the real investigators show up, the real detectives, they seen that this was straight garbage.

Taya Graham:

But something I noticed and really wanted to pay attention to is I heard an officer not in uniform say, “Let’s just make it look like you’re arresting him, that he might get possession, and then we’re going to take him and see if we can get some information out of him.” So, it looks to me like they were trying to turn him into an informant and they were cutting him off from resources where he could get help at the same time, so basically cutting him off from resources and possibly his freedom. This seems to me like targeting a vulnerable person to become a CI. What do you think?

Manuel Mata:

That’s exactly what happened, because they knew that this guy was just a regular street person, and majority of those don’t want to be in jail, so it’s easier to manipulate and influence him to tell. And sad to say, that’s exactly what happened here. They put him in a car, they drove him down the street to where the police station was on Hempfield and Magnolia, and they let him out. And the cops, while they’re letting him out, they’re like, “You’re just going to go in here and talk to these detectives. You don’t have to tell them nothing, but to help yourself, just go ahead and tell them.”

Taya Graham:

So, what were your charges? From my understanding, just last week you were supposed to report for 180 days in jail. Can you tell me what you were charged with and what you’re facing and what happened?

Manuel Mata:

Well, I got charged with interfering with public duties and resisting arrest. Not only was I charged, I went to trial and I was found guilty on both of those cases, and I received 180 days and I appealed it. And yes, yesterday I was supposed to turn myself in and the strangest thing happened. I did not have a warrant to turn myself in. What happened is I was given a court date for another sentencing hearing. Now, I don’t know what’s going on, and I don’t know what’s going to happen, but all I do know is I don’t care because I know one thing, when I chose to believe in something stronger than myself, I don’t need to be afraid. I don’t need to be worried. I don’t need to understand evil people anymore, because I know two things. This too shall pass and lean not on my own under understanding. Those two things I keep to my heart, and I remember this is selfless, so I can’t lose. The only I’m doing is I’ve made the world notice Fort Worth Police Department and their awful, awful tactics and their culture of torture. That’s it.

Taya Graham:

Okay, let’s take a second to break down what we just saw and examine it through the prism of a concept that I think does not get the attention it deserves, namely the ever expansive and destructive growth of police power in the service of some nebulous notion that if we consent to it, we’ll all be safer. Well, I, for one, am skeptical, and there is plenty of evidence to prove that that skepticism is warranted. First, it’s important to note that many categories of crime have gone down this year, especially some of the most violent and serious crimes, which have fallen since they rose dramatically during the pandemic. In most major cities, that has meant roughly a 20% drop in murders. In my hometown Baltimore, the drop has been even more precipitous, with homicides roughly 30% below their peak, but all of this good news came with a bit of a confounding asterisk.

It happened amid a nationwide shortage of police officers. Numerous reports have accounted how difficult it’s been for police departments to maintain staffing levels. In our hometown of Baltimore, we’re short a record 678 positions. It’s been called a crisis by the mainstream media, a shortage of officers on the street that threatens public safety, and law and order, and the future of civilization, and yet that’s not what occurred at all. Instead, we experienced one of the steepest drops in violence in recent history, all of which occurred in the timeframe when there are simply less officers on the street and fewer cops making fewer arrests. But here’s a question, how on earth could that happen? More cops equals more safety, right? More law enforcement means more law and order, right? A gun and badge are the best way to ensure that chaos and crime are kept under control, right?

According to police partisans, this drop in crime could in no way be due to the lessening of social isolation and economic stressors at the end of the pandemic. Of course not, it couldn’t be due to the revival of in-person social programs that scientists say are the most effective form of violence reduction strategies, over and above aggressive policing, never. It couldn’t be in Baltimore due to the group violence reduction strategy that tries to intervene in the lives of people most likely to commit a murder with jobs and support, rather than handcuffs and bars. Absolutely no way. It just couldn’t be any of those programs that mitigate poverty, uplift communities, and generally work with people as if they’re human beings, not human chattel to be arrested, caged, and locked away until the end of time. It’s just not possible, right? There’s only one solution to violence.

There’s only one way to get results, right? Give cops more power, give them more guns, form more SWAT teams and specialized units, and discard those pesky constitutional rights that keep on getting in the way of effective crime fighting. That’s what we should do if we want to stay safe, correct? And of course, despite relinquishing our constitutional rights, police will treat us fairly, protect the innocent, and not steal from us, right? Oh, okay, that last statement might’ve gone a bit too far, but just consider a recent decision by our illustrious Supreme Court, which seems to relish in retracting our rights, not expanding them. The court was asked to consider the request of two people who have been victimized by overly aggressive civil asset forfeiture, or as this article in The Nation describes it, When Cops Steal Your Stuff. The plaintiffs had asked the court to rule on a seemingly modest request that when police confiscate property, they should have a prompt hearing on if the seizure was legal.

Now, first you have to remember that despite our Fourth Amendment protection from unwarranted searches or seizures, police in this country can pretty much take our property, even if we’re not criminally charged. And worse yet, if you want that property back, you have to file a civil suit and prove that it doesn’t belong to the police in the first place. That question came to a head before the highest court in the land when it was asked to consider the petition of two plaintiffs who had lost their automobiles to police, both had never been accused of a crime. Instead, a person who was caught with drugs in both cases had borrowed their cars, which police subsequently seized. To get their property back, the burden was on the plaintiffs. They had to file civil cases and argue the seizures were unwarranted. They wanted the courts to instead require police departments to have a preliminary hearing to justify the taking of property.

But in a 6-3 decision, the court said no. In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor noted that 80% of asset forfeiture cases are civil, meaning they are not directly tied to a criminal case. This means that most property seized by police is not linked to direct criminal behavior, but rather is simply proximate to a crime, like the aforementioned case I just recounted. What this means in real life is that if someone dumps a couple grams of weed on your property, in the right state, police can seize your car and other properties and make you fight to get it back. And what’s even more stunning is that it’s not even clear what connects all the seizures to the original idea used to justify it. Namely, seizing assets is supposed to deprive major criminals of the resources they need to commit more crimes. It’s an idea that was touted by police by pointing to the threat of major drug dealers.

But like most policies based on fear, it has turned into a cash machine for police departments. In the case before the Supreme Court, these kingpins had simply lent their cars to the wrong people. All the cops accomplished was depriving innocent people of using their cars for work, transporting kids, and generally taking care of themselves, and their family. But of course, the underlying premise is the same fallacy I cited at the beginning of this rant. The more power we give cops, the safer we will be. The more we relinquish our constitutional rights, the less crime will occur, or the more we diminish ourselves, the more cops will protect us. Well, let me ask you, is that what’s really happened? Are we safe because we gave up our rights? Are we more productive because police can seize our assets? Is our country happier and healthier because law enforcement has taken the Constitution and used it like old newspaper for puppy training?

Well, I don’t think so. Instead, we have a destructive, ultimately Faustian bargain that I think we all need to reconsider, because as you can see, once we give up our rights, the powers that be are determined to never give them back. And fighting to get those rights is surely history we don’t want to repeat. I want to thank Manuel Mata for speaking with us and keeping us updated on policing in Fort Worth, Texas. Thank you, Manuel. And of course, I have to thank intrepid investigative reporter Stephen Janis for his writing, research, and editing on this piece. Thank you, Stephen. And I want to thank mods of the show, Noli D and Lacey R. for their support. Thanks, Noli D.

And a very special thanks to our Accountability Report Patreons, we appreciate you, and I look forward to thanking each and every one of you personally in our next live stream, especially Patreon associate producers, Johnny R., David K., Louie P., Lucida Garcia, and super friends, Shane B., Kenneth K., Pineapple Girl Matter of Rights, and Chris R.

And I want you watching to know that if you have video evidence of police misconduct or brutality, please share it with us and we might be able to investigate for you. Please reach out to us. You can email us tips privately at par@therealnews.com, and share your evidence of police misconduct. You can also message us at Police Accountability Report on Facebook or Instagram, or at Eyes on Police on Twitter. And of course, you can always message me directly @tayasbaltimore on Twitter or Facebook, and please like and comment. You know I read the comments and appreciate them, and we do have the Patreon link pinned in the comments below for Accountability Reports. So if you feel inspired to donate, please do. We do not run ads or take corporate dollars, so anything you can spare is greatly appreciated. My name is Taya Graham and I’m your host of the Police Accountability Report. Please, be safe out there.

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