Two off-duty police officers have been arrested after they allegedly assaulted a Hispanic man in Louisiana and called him a “fake American.”
Juan Gomez was at his go-to spot, the Mid-City Yacht Club near his home in New Orleans, when he says the two men called him over and soon started arguing with him, according to WVUE in New Orleans.
John Galman and Spencer Sutton, both members of the New Orleans Police Department, were both off-duty when they began speaking with Gomez at the bar.
“He didn’t like the way I dressed,” Gomez told WVUE, saying he was wearing camouflage shirt and pants.
Galman told Gomez that he was a Marine, and Gomez responded saying he served in the Army, and that’s when the conversation allegedldy escalated.
“Calling me 'fake American' and all that,” Gomez told WVUE. “We almost look the same color so I don’t know what the difference between him and me. What is the difference at this point?”
Gomez then said the two off-duty officers took his bandanna as he tried to walk away from the situation.
“I was trying to play it cool,” he said, mentioning a woman at the bar was threatening to call the police. “But he came back and he engaged. He was hitting me and I was like, 'Are you for real? You're hitting me.' I didn't feel anything until I see a lot of bleeding,”
Gomez also said the officers repeatedly told him “you’re going to die,” WVUE reported.
After the altercation, Gomez was taken to a local hospital for his injuries and released soon after.
In response to the beating, the Mid-City Yacht Club put out a statement on Facebook defending Gomez.
“Mr. Gomez is our long-time customer and friend and we are very sickened that this has happened to him. The MCYC family is extremely concerned,” the bar wrote online. “We will plan a fundraiser, as long as it is with Mr. Gomez blessing, to help raise money to support Mr. Gomez during this difficult time.”
Members of the community also launched a support page for Gomez online and a GoFundMe to support his recovery.
Galman and Sutton were both rookie officers and were in a probationary period with the department, according to a statement by the New Orleans Police. They were charged with simple battery in connection with the alleged assault.
“After gathering multiple video accounts and eyewitness statements, the evidence collected by our PIB investigators clearly demonstrates that our officers were the aggressors in this incident,” NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said in the statement. “Members of our department are expected to comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct, whether on- or off-duty.”
The department has begun the termination process for the two officers and the criminal investigation into their conduct remains ongoing.
[Photo: Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Screenshot of Facebook Page]