Tucson police officer arrested on suspicion of assaulting handcuffed suspect

A Tucson police officer was arrested Sunday on suspicion of aggravated assault after body-worn camera footage allegedly showed he struck a man’s head while the man was handcuffed on the ground during an arrest last week, according to police officials.

Officers went to the Roy Laos Transit Center in Tucson about 7:20 p.m. Thursday night after a security guard called 911 to report a fight between several people, a statement from Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus said. When police arrived, the people involved had left.

However, officers returned to the transit center later that night after learning one of the people had returned.

The police statement said body-worn camera footage showed the officers approached the man, whose name was not released, and that he initially laid face-down on the ground with his hands out before beginning to struggle and resist. 

Officer William Gallego was called to the scene to assist. Gallego appeared to recognize the man and called him by his name, footage reportedly shows. The man spit at Gallego’s pant leg, according to the statement.

Gallego allegedly put his boot on the man’s head. When Gallego retrieved a restraint device from the police vehicle and returned, he allegedly struck the suspect’s head two times.

The suspect was restrained and carried to a patrol car. He was booked into a Pima County jail on suspicion of trespassing and failing to identify himself, according to the statement.

As part of a standard review when force is used by an officer, Gallego’s supervisor reviewed his bodycam footage from the arrest the next day. They also initiated a criminal investigation.

“Based on video evidence, investigators believe Gallego made intentional contact with the suspect’s head two different times while he was handcuffed on the ground,” said Magnus’s statement.

On Sunday, detectives arrested and booked Gallego into a Pima County jail on suspicion of aggravated assault.

Gallego resigned from his position with the Tucson Police Department prior to his arrest, according to the statement. He worked with the department for 16 years.

Reach the reporter at emily.wilder@arizonarepublic.com or on Twitter @vv1lder.



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