EL PASO, Texas -- An El Paso police officer recently recorded on a doorbell camera being involved in a verbal confrontation with a 24-year-old crime witness has had no change in his duty status while an internal investigation is ongoing into that officer's conduct.
Last week, Ruben Garcia Jr., shared the video with ABC-7 which shows the officer shouting at him after he didn’t call police to report unusual behavior involving a neighbor. (You can watch the entire confrontation in the video player at the top of this article.)
The verbal altercation escalated with both men using profanities. At one point, the officer is heard using a homophobic slur and threatening Garcia Jr.
"You pull something out and I'll fu***** kill you right here right now," the officer tells Garcia Jr. "You understand that sh**?"
EL Paso Mayor Dee Margo's office sent ABC-7 a statement Tuesday saying, "At this time, the video is under investigation by the El Paso police Department. Once the investigation is complete it will be addressed accordingly."
Deputy City Manager Dionne Mack also sent ABC-7 a statement saying:
"The City of El Paso and the El Paso Police Department has protocol in place to thoroughly examine alleged misconduct by active employees. The events of last week are under investigation by the police department. Management will allow due process to follow its course before drawing conclusions pre-maturely. The EPPD holds all officers to the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. Training and continuous education opportunities are and will remain a departmental priority."
ABC-7 reached out to police requesting an interview on Wednesday regarding the department's protocol during these types of situations. When they respond, ABC-7 will provide an update with that information.
The father of the man who was threatened by the officer told ABC-7 his son is still considering whether to press charges against the officer. He said his son is not interested in talking about the incident right now because the video says it all.
The family did say they planned on speaking with EPPD's internal affairs division after someone with that division left them a card.
"To see your child threatened in that manner, especially from a police officer, is unsettling," said Ruben Garcia Sr. of the confrontation between his son and the officer.
According to the video time stamp, the altercation happened on Nov. 23 when police arrested 26-year-old Zakary Frampton, a Fort Bliss soldier who lives in Garcia's neighborhood. Investigators said Frampton violently attacked his two sons after allegedly consuming LSD. The children are 3 and 7 years old.
Video provided by Garcia Jr. to ABC-7 showed Frampton running up and down the street, seemingly naked, and screaming.
That night, there was a heavy police presence in the neighborhood. The video shows an officer asking questions to Garcia Jr. outside the Garcia home when the conversation escalated as the officer accused him of not reporting the naked neighbor because he "hates the badge."
"KVIA has made the department aware of a situation involving an officer’s interaction with a witness of a heinous crime," wrote Sgt. Kiki Carrillo, a spokesman for El Paso Police, in response to the video when it was first shared with him last week. "An investigation will be launched into the officer’s conduct."
According to the court documents obtained by ABC-7, two officers responded to the scene that night, but it's not clear which one is heard making the threat on the video on the video.
Garcia's father told ABC-7 that as his son indicated to the officer, he only saw a man running down the street that night and had no knowledge of the attack on the children - which a police incident report provided to the media and a court affidavit both indicated happened inside Frampton's home.
But Sgt. Carrillo wrote in his initial response to our questions about the officer's conduct that it is disappointing when a person refuses "to become involved in an a situation where innocent children are being victimized." He added: “Regardless of one’s reasoning, not only is it a civic responsibility but basic human decency (that) dictates intervention, if nothing else, by calling the police."