Gangbangers in Blue

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“This is a message to all you bikers, man,” gloated the armed assailant while he stood above his prone and brutalized victim. “We’re not here to play games anymore.”

The “message” came in the form of a brutal beating that carried out to the accompaniment of gutter-level gang-banger profanity: “Motherf****r! Ya gonna f****’ run? Ya gonna f*****’ run? You piece of sh*t!… F**k you!” Miguel’s pitiful protests simply enraged the assailant further. “Piece of sh*t! Shut up!” exclaimed the thug, kicking the prone and helpless victim.

Miguel and two friends were riding motorcycles on the streets of El Paso late one evening three years ago when they had the misfortune of attracting the attention of Steve Smith and Charles Romo, members of the city’s most violent street gang — the El Paso Police Department. Romo claims that he attempted to pull Miguel over because the license plate wasn’t visible on his motorcycle. However, Romo didn’t turn on his running lights or activate his siren. After Romo called for backup, Officer Smith drove past Miguel with his lights on, and started to weave across the road.

Miguel, who had no prior experience with the police, claimed that he thought Smith was heading to another call. Confused by Smith’s reckless driving, Miguel attempted to pull into a nearby parking lot. Smith cut Miguel off, causing a collision that banged up his shiny new thugmobile and, of infinitely greater importance, endangered Miguel’s life.

“I was yelling, `Stop, I don’t know what’s going on, why are you doing this’” as he was dragged from his bike and beaten Miguel recalled in a subsequent interview. His friends were permitted to leave the site. Miguel was kidnapped at gunpoint by Smith and Romo and charged with “evading arrest.” Smith — who is (as we will shortly see) a career bully who badly needs to get his back dirty — couldn’t resist taunting Miguel as he was dragged off to jail. “You just lost your job, bitch,” sneered the hero. “You’re an idiot.”

Miguel, who was cleared of all charges, would spend the next several weeks on crutches. Although he was employed by the city of El Paso, his injuries made it impossible to work, and he was put on unpaid leave for three months. Eventually the taxpayers of El Paso were forced to pay him $15,000 to settle a lawsuit. But little Stevie Smith was actually rewarded by the department with a twenty-hour paid suspension — which amounts to more than two days’ paid vacation. This shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the exploits of the El Paso Police Department.

Prior to this incident, Smith had been suspended twice for misconduct. In 2002, he called in sick, only to be involved in a bar fight a few hours later. Two years later, Smith got into an off-duty fistfight with a Mundane who had asked him to move a shopping cart in a Wal-Mart parking lot. According to El Paso NBC affiliate KTSM, Smith’s conduct in cutting off Miguel’s motorcycle violates department policy, which prohibits the use of  “offensive tactics” during vehicular pursuits.

Naturally, Smith is up for a promotion.

1:15 pm on November 9, 2010
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