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Medina County’s `Greatest Hits’ BY JAMES CULLEN Hondo F OR MORE THAN 20 years Mexican and African Americans have complained of shootings, beatings and bullying at the hands of lawmen in Medina County. But this rural county west of San Antonio finally made the list of “Law Enforcement’s Greatest Hits” after videotape showed a county sheriff’s deputy and a Hondo city police officer kicking and beating Hispanic teenagers after a November 1992 car chase. . The videotape was made by state Department of Public Safety trooper George Sisneros, who activated his dashboard video camera when he arrived at the site of the beating. Medina County authorities kept the tape from public view for nearly a year after San Antonio TV reporter Dale Rankin learned of its existence and filed the first of three requests for its disclosure. When the tape was finally released and shown on KENS-TV Channel 5 in February, it showed the young Mexican-American men lying face down on the ground and handcuffed while a Medina County sheriff’s deputy kicked three of them, jumping on one youth’s back and pulling his head up by the hair before the trooper stopped him. A Hondo police officer also is seen kicking one of the youths. The young men were jailed for four days on charges of evading arrest. The charges eventually were dropped. Both officers were investigated and prosecuted. Sheriff’s Deputy Tony Perales was dismissed from the Sheriff’s Department and in April 1993 he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of violating the youths’ civil rights. Hondo Police Officer Mark T. Chadwick in September 1993 pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor. Both were given probation and Chadwick remained on the police force until last October, when he was laid off as a result of city budget cuts. The Medina County videotape, which has been broadcast nationally as well as on Mexican and Spanish networks, was the latest in a series of videotapes that have helped document complaints of police misconduct. In addition to the well-known case of Rodney King, whose beating at the hands of Los Angeles police sparked riots in Los Angeles last year, East Texas lawmen were videotaped beating and shooting a suspect who appeared to be resisting arrest after being pulled over on a traffic stop in Henderson County last September. The Dallas security guard who was arrested after he gave police a false name was shot twice after he struggled with a DPS trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy and tried to flee. The videotape showed Lorenzo Colston shot from behind but a state district court jury in Athens found Colston guilty of assaulting the two officers and he was sentenced to two years’ probation. A Henderson County grand jury cleared the officers of blame but the FBI reportedly is investigating for possible civil rights violations. AGROUP OF MEDINA County residents, claiming that abuse of minorities is systematic, has asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Medina County Sheriff’s Department and the local police activities after local prosecutions amounted to little more than slaps on the wrists of offending lawmen. In addition to the videotaped beating, People Against Police Abuse has cited six other cases of alleged police abuse since 1980, including a March 1993 incident that left a Hondo man paralyzed. The other cases included: a September 1980 case in which Reyes Leal, then 39, of Hondo, was shot to death in his home by a Hondo police officer who had responded to a domestic disturbance call. Police said Leal had aimed a rifle at the officer. an October 1984 case in which Rogelio Lopez, then 17, of Hondo, was forced off the road during a chase between Hondo and Devine. When he ran from the truck, he was fatally shot in the back by Medina County sheriff’s Deputy Richard Wells. Deputies originally contended that Lopez had threatened them with a weapon, but investigators later recovered only a pair of scissors from the scene. a January 1992 case in which Roland Alfaro, then 23, of LaCoste, was beaten by sheriff’s Deputy Scott Tschirhart, reportedly after he asked Tschirhart if he had a warrant to search a residence for drugs. Al faro was charged with resisting arrest, but the charges were dropped after a mistrial. Tschirhart had been fired by the Houston Police Department after involvement in three controversial fatal shootings of black men. Medina County Sheriff Wesley Scott said he believed Tschirhart had been unfairly criticized for those incidents. a February 1992 case in which Sammy Sanchez, 16, of Natalia, received nine stitches on the back of his head after Tschirhart struck him with his metal service flashlight. a February 1993 case in which Ronnie Hernandez, then 26, of Hondo, was shot in the face by sheriffs Deputy Bill Boles while Hernandez was handcuffed to another prisoner in D’Haiiis. Although Boles was cleared of wrongdoing by Sheriff Scott, he left the department. a March 1993 case in which Jerry Velasquez, then 34, of Hondo was injured during a drug raid on his apartment. In that case, Velasquez said he was in his apartment on the night of March 13, 1993, when more than a dozen people broke down the door and rushed in, dressed in black suits with masked hoods. “They said `freeze, put your hands up!’ They were cursing,” Velasquez said. “I told them I had to move slow because I had multiple back surgeries. At this point he ran forward and pushed me down, put his foot on my back and brought my arms back and cuffed me. A second pair of cuffs were attached and two officers picked me up by the chain … and I felt a warm sensation in my legs when they picked me up. Another officer walked in and said, ‘Be careful, he’s had back surgery.’ At this point, Velasquez said, another officer came in and asked where the drugs were. “I was pleading with him to take the officer off my back and he told me he didn’t give a shit …” Velasquez was taken to a local hospital and later was transferred to San Antonio, where examinations showed he had suffered spinal contusions. He has no feelings in his legs and must catheterize himself periodically to discharge waste. Unbeknownst to him, Velasquez’s roommate had been arrested earlier in the day, but no drugs were found in their apartment 6 MAY 6, 1994 :4/ “7′ 10,…… fe,