A police officer from Fort Worth, Texas, has been suspended from his uniformed duties after a video emerged on Facebook showing him standing on the side of the road and allegedly dousing a group of bikers with pepper spray as they drove by.
According to the Huffington Post, the pepper spray incident was filmed by one of the bikers, Jack Kinney, via a helmetcam. The footage was then edited by a man named Chase Stone and uploaded on Monday. The video above shows the driver filming the Fort Worth officer getting out of his marked police cruiser and shooting some kind of substance in the direct path of a long line of bikers. The footage is repeated in slow motion, and the officer can be clearly seen shooting a stream of pepper spray into the road.
Stone captioned the video “Law enforcement is here to protect and serve, not intentionally try to harm others.”
Within hours, the pepper spray video amassed over 67,000 views and was shared more than 2,300 times.
Following the upload, the Forth Worth Police Department launched an investigation into the pepper spray incident, eventually identifying the man in the video as Officer Figueroa, who has been on the force for six years.
“He has been placed in an administrative capacity pending the investigation,” said the department. “The Fort Worth Police Department takes any complaint of officer misconduct very seriously and this incident will be investigated thoroughly.”
In addition to the Facebook footage of the pepper spray incident, the department also obtained footage from the officer’s body camera as well as the camera on the dashboard and will be reviewing them to determine if any further disciplinary actions need to be taken.
“It’s the last thing I would expect to see,” Jack Kinney said to local news, WFAA.
“His intent was to hit the bikers for sure, there’s no doubt about it,” Chase Stone added. “His intent was to send somebody down, if not to cause a major accident with that [pepper spray].”
According to the bikers, they were part of a much larger group of about 200 motorcyclists who were traveling north on U.S. 287 through Fort Worth. Officer Figueroa reportedly pulled over one of their “safety vehicles,” which drives behind the line of bikers in case of an accident. As the motorcyclists passed the police cruiser, Figueroa was seemingly provoked to create a screen of pepper spray for the bikers to drive through.
“If you’re worried about safety, why would you pepper spray a large group of bikers like that?” Kinney asked.
Despite the seemingly reckless nature of the pepper spray incident, viewers on Facebook pointed out that many of the bikers appeared to be breaking the nationwide “Move Over Law,” which states that drivers should move into the far lane away from an officer who has pulled over another vehicle. Even so, it seems dangerous for Officer Figueroa to enact justice against the group with a seemingly spiteful burst of pepper spray in the eyes.
In addition to the alleged violation of the “Move Over Law,” the bikers were also reportedly driving recklessly by weaving in and out of traffic and popping wheelies on the highway. The Forth Worth police department claims they received multiple calls about motorcyclists driving recklessly on nearby highways.
Chase Stone commented that, regardless of the Fort Worth officer’s motivations, there is no excuse for blinding a line of several hundred bikers. The pepper spray could have caused any given motorcyclist to swerve or crash, which could have killed people.
“When you put other people’s life in danger, it’s just uncalled for.”
What do you think provoked the Texas officer to spray the bikers with pepper spray? This isn’t the first time police have been accused of needlessly using pepper spray. Read about the viral video that led to a lawsuit over pepper spray here.
[Photo via Facebook]