La Vergne police investigating officers' actions in punching - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

La Vergne police investigating officers' actions in punching incident

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Surveillance video captures arrest at La Vergne apartment complex. Surveillance video captures arrest at La Vergne apartment complex.
LAVERGNE, TN (WSMV) -

La Vergne police are conducting an internal investigation to determine if officers used excessive force while trying to restrain a man after they responded to a reported fight.

Witnesses said three people were fighting on Saturday night at an apartment complex on Murfreesboro Road. And when police arrived, not knowing who was involved, they had everyone who was outside to hit the ground.

Mario Ticas, 28, said he came out of his apartment to try and bring the fight under control before police arrived.

The officers had been at a sobriety checkpoint right up the street when someone said there was a fight at the complex, and surveillance video from one of nine cameras at the complex shows the incident from beginning to end.

On the video, Ticas is seen putting his dog inside his apartment. He then comes back out and is confronted by officers, who ordered everyone outside to the ground.

Ticas can be seen on the video backing up and getting on his knees, with hands up, when an officer grabs him and throws a series of punches.

"I started getting punched in the face and forced down," Ticas said.

The punches continued while another officer appears to kick Ticas.

Ticas then managed to get up, and it appears he struggled with the officers.

"It was very much excessive force," Ticas said.

The officers retreated and Ticas gets back on one knee, and that's when a police K-9 officer approaches to help subdue Ticas.

"No one should deserve what I went through. No one at all should be going through anything like that," Ticas said. "Law enforcement is supposed to be professional about their job."

Ticas suffered injuries to his face and back and dog bites to his head and ear. He was arrested for public intoxication and assault on a police officer.

"I could see everything and what was being said," said Ticas' cousin, Cindy Martinez.

Martinez captured part of the incident on cell phone video and says her cousin didn't resist.

"The officer behind him quickly grabbed him and put him on the ground and started punching him," Martinez said. "I know it was wrong, so I got out my phone and recorded it."

"I was told he continued to fight," said La Vergne Police Chief Mike Walker.

Walker said it's too early in the internal investigation to determine if the officers went overboard or not.

"I can't make a call as to what occurred yet. I'll do that down the road after I get all the facts and information," Walker said.

Walker said he also asked the district attorney to also look into the case.

"There's been a lot of social media. I'm told that 'they'll cover it up' and 'they are crooked,' and so on and so forth," Walker said. "No we're not. I don't cover stuff up. I deal with situations. My professionalism and integrity is still here, and I won't sweep anything under the rug."

Ticas maintains his innocence, and he's hoping some type of disciplinary action against the officers is taken.

Walker said Ticas has a lengthy criminal history, including arrests for assault, DUI, theft, driving on a revoked license and other charges in Smyrna and in Minnesota.

Ticas said he has turned his life around, and his history has nothing to do with what happened to him on Saturday night.

He said he is considering suing the La Vergne Police Department over the incident.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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