According to CBS News, two white police officers in New Orleans were fired and charged on Thursday for beating Jorge Alberto Gomez, whom they reportedly called a “fake American.”
The assault occurred at the Mid-City Yacht Club on Tuesday. Gomez reported that the two officers, Spencer Sutton and John Galman, approached him inside the bar and began to harass him. According to Gomez, Sutton and Galman told him that they didn’t like his camouflage clothing and proceeded to ask him if he had served in the military. Gomez, who was born in the U.S. but grew up in Honduras, informed them that he served in the Louisiana National Guard. The officers, however, were unsatisfied with his answer and asked him if he was American.
Gomez told his local newspaper, The New Orleans Advocate, “They kept telling me I wasn’t an American citizen, that I was a fake American.”
After he left the bar, the officers followed Gomez for a few blocks and proceeded to beat him. According to court records, both Galman and Sutton struck him several times with “an opened hand and fist.”
After getting stitches at the hospital, Gomez was interviewed by WWL-TV, appearing on screen with a swollen and bruised face.
While the officers claimed that Gomez had attacked them first, video surveillance and witness accounts proved otherwise.
Police Superintendent Michael Harrison confirmed that Galman and Sutton were the initial and main aggressors, telling WWL-TV, “We took very decisive and strong action against them with the evidence that was brought to us.”
“What we learned and what I was briefed on and what we saw,” he continued, “supported they were the aggressors, not only inside but outside and it continued to escalate.”
Harrison also issued a written statement claiming that all of his officers “are expected to comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct, whether on- or off-duty.”
Galman and Sutton, who pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts in court, were fired and each charged with one count of battery. Pending further investigation by the FBI and the local police, the district attorney is still determining whether or not a hate crime enhancement will be added to their charges.
The New Orleans Advocate reported that both officers had just graduated from the police academy in December and were still in the process of completing their probationary period when they assaulted Gomez.