White people often don’t understand why Black people tend to respond so aggressively to police officers after being racially profiled. They watch a video of a Black man being detained for nonsensical reasons and daring to get upset about it, and they say, “If he would only stay calm and follow instructions, everything would be fine.” (Because in their world, Philando Castile never existed.) What they don’t get is that constant racial profiling—whether by police or by the public in general—takes its toll. It gets annoying and inconvenient and because Black people are human beings, there will be days when we just ain’t in the mood and ain’t got the time.
Mathias Ometu was arrested on August 25 in San Antonio, Tx., after police said he fit the description of a domestic violence suspect they were looking for in the area, “even though the victim’s description differed from Ometu’s physical profile,” according to KSAT 12.
On Wednesday, Ometu and his attorneys held a press conference and he spoke publicly about what happened for the first time.
While jogging near Interstate 10 and Woodstone Drive, Ometu said he noticed a police car slow down by him before speeding past him and turning back around toward him.
Ometu said he felt targeted by the police, who were looking for Darren Smith Jr., who was arrested Friday on an unrelated robbery warrant. Smith has not been charged in connection with the family violence incident.
When police told Ometu they wanted to take him to the apartment complex so the victim would identify him as the suspect, he persisted on remaining where he is.
“Once those doors close on you, you never know when they’re going to open again,” Ometu said.
A struggle ensued as officers forcefully tried to place him in the car. During the struggle, officers said they were kicked by Ometu.
“I did not intentionally kick, scratch, or harm any officer,” Ometu said.
Despite him not being the suspect they were looking for, the officers arrested Ometu and charged him with assault. For two days, Ometu was in jail, where he said he “experienced true darkness.”
“I was guilty before proven innocent,” Ometu said. “I was treated unfairly, and that has to be addressed. I was physically, emotionally and mentally harmed, and that has to be addressed.”
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who said officers acted appropriately during the arrest—a comment Ometu’s attorneys are now demanding an apology for—said in a statement that the arresting officers requested to have the charges dropped “in an effort to help the community heal in a time where policing and race has been scrutinized on a national level,” KSAT reports.
Here’s McManus’ full Statement:
What occurred was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. Although he fit the description of a domestic violence suspect, Mr. Ometu was doing nothing wrong when he was stopped, and the officers were only doing their jobs when they stopped him. Both officers wish that things had turned out differently given Mr. Ometu turned out not to be the suspect. Although the police officers were assaulted, they were not injured. As such, they have asked that the charges against Mr. Ometu be dismissed. They also do not want Mr. Ometu to suffer any adverse consequences from the incident. Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales has agreed to drop the charges. Both officers felt it important to use this incident as an opportunity for unity and understanding at a time when it is most needed. It is clear that pursuing charges against Mr. Ometu would not bring us closer to our goals of building trust and creating partnerships with our community. We have invited Mr. Ometu to start a dialogue on policing in San Antonio, and that invitation will remain open.