Pastor Jose Elias Moran was preparing for an early Wednesday prayer service yesterday (July 1) at the Iglesia Profetica Peniel in Webster, Texas when he was informed that a member of his congregation had been stopped by the police.
Out of concern for the church member, Pastor Moran went out to inquire what had happened, only to have the officer, Raymond Berryman, snarl at him to go back inside. According to witnesses, when Moran tried to explain, "I'm the pastor," Berryman grabbed at his shirt.
According to Berryman's official account, Moran pushed him and then fled into the church and returned with 40 other congregants. Moran, his family, and others present at the scene dispute this version, insisting that the pastor never touched the officer and went inside to enlist some church members to act as witnesses.
Berryman pursued Moran to the doors of the church and began kicking them. As soon as the doors opened, Berryman broke out the pepper spray and assaulted the congregants.
At the same time, a second officer who had arrived on the scene (tax-feeders, like other armed bullies, specialize in overkill) attacked Pastor Moran, a 42-year-old man with a heart condition, with a Taser and arrested him for "interfering" with a police officer.
The officers likewise threatened to arrest Moran's wife Maria after she came to his aid following the Taser assault. "My husband has a heart condition and with electrocution who knows what could have happened," Maria points out.
"They treated him as if he were a drug dealer or a murderer, but he is a pastor that tries to help the community," complained Moran's son Miguel, who witnessed the police assault. Although the police insist that Pastor Moran remains in their custody, he was taken to a local hospital for treatment and additional tests following the assault.