UPDATED: July 24, 2014, adds new information (below) about the officer’s background and training. -RM
AUSTIN (KXAN) — An online radio interview has surfaced featuring the plaintiff named in a federal excessive force lawsuit filed in Austin this week. The recording was made Sept. 1, 2013, days after police used a Taser on Enemenico Roy Alaniz Jr., 22, in his own home. He was then arrested and charged with violating a city ordinance for failing to obey a lawful order (A municipal court judge later dropped the charge, the suit contends).
He was arrested Aug. 11 moments after police responded to Alaniz Jr’s next door neighbor who had called officers to help with a family disturbance. The lawsuit shows Alaniz Jr was shot with a stun gun by Austin Police Officer Jason Cummins after the officer ordered him to exit the apartment. When Alaniz told the officer he would not leave his home, Cummins kicked in a screen door before deploying his less-than-lethal weapon, the suit alleges.
“It just goes to show some officers are having a bad day or pushing a power tactic and are going to get what they want,” Alaniz Jr. told the host of a weekly show on Logos Radio Network called ‘Live and Let Live.’
“This officer got what he wanted. I feel he used his Taser in pushing his authority issue. I thought these people were out here to help us not hurt us and that’s exactly what they did, they hurt us, not helped us,” Alaniz Jr. said in the interview. “His neighbor was arrested on outstanding warrants, the show’s host explained to listeners on the two-hour program.”
Neighbors told KXAN off camera on Wednesday that the August arrest happened in front of Alaniz Jr.’s young son. Neither was badly hurt in the incident, but Alaniz Jr. is claiming damages.
“The way they treated him (Alaniz Jr.), that was uncalled for,” said one neighbor, who requested anonymity.
Alaniz Jr. never filed a formal complaint, according to the Office of the Police Monitor.
Any time the independently-run OPM receives a citizen complaint about alleged police behavior or actions it can investigate and make recommendations for the police chief. APD’s Internal Affairs Division can then look into possible policy violations around whether the correct use-of-force was used in a particular incident. APD’s policy shows TASER deployments are considered Level 3 force incidents, on a scale where 1 involves a death, or risk of death.
It remains unclear what, if any, internal policy review Alaniz Jr.’s arrest generated since no formal discipline was issued. Any punishment less than a paid day’s suspension would be kept confidential in Cummins’ city personnel file. In 2012, Cummins was suspended for a day after crashing his patrol vehicle en route to a priority call.
List of use-of-force incidents
Also included in the suit, is an appendix that lists 46 alleged use-of-force incidents involving Cummins in his four-year career with the Austin Police Department. Normally, such a list would not be public. Of those, seven involved a Taser and three involved pepper spray. The others fell into the “weaponless” category, such as employing pressure points or kicking a suspect.
Police sources tell KXAN more than 40 use-of-force incidents for an officer working in a patrol sector with a high volume of calls and a lot of contact with the public is within the realm of possibility. The source, who spoke on condition of confidentiality, had no way of knowing why Alaniz refused to exit his home upon arriving at the apartment. The civil suit notes a handgun was later found on a kitchen table. Another unknown was Alaniz’s criminal history and how he might respond to police officers on his porch.
A criminal background check shows Alaniz served one day in Travis County jail for a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license.
Officer’s training shows wide range of education
An Open Records request from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), the state’s police licensing agency, shows Cummins received his state Peace Officer License in April of 2010.
Since that time, among other skills training courses, Cummins completed a one-hour TASER training workshop in April 2012.
Most recently, last April records show he was awarded his intermediate peace officer certificate. Further, at Austin’s Police Academy last February Cummins completed training in a 40-hour course allowing him to be a Field Training Officer. An FTO accompanies rookie officers for a period of months and monitors their job performance.
Cummins is also qualified to work as a Mental Health Officer for APD. In April of last year, he completed 40 hours of crisis intervention training aimed at helping citizens in psychological distress and helping direct them to treatment facilities.