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BRUTALITY, BUT ONLY IN MODERATION

By G.R. |

Plenty of Dallasites read about the Grand Prairie police officer who punched the face of a handcuffed 15-year-old Mexican-American boy, using heavily weighted leather gloves. For that breach of departmental decorum, former officer Jimmy Horrocks, 38, was fired by former police Chief Sonny Pfeifer.

Horrocks has been reinstated by the Grand Prairie Civil Service Commission. The commission decided that Horrocks had used “more force than was necessary” against Chris Gomez, 15, and Ricky Diaz, 16, but that the beating was not brutal enough to warrant firing. The commission gave him a 30-day suspension without pay.

By Horrocks’ own admission, he struck Gomez while the handcuffed youth sat in the rear of Horrocks’ patrol car. Gomez, Horrocks explained, spat at him and got a punch in the face for his troubles. “It was just a reflex,” he said.

Less reflexive was Horrocks’ performance at the city jail. Diaz, Horrocks claimed, “squared off after threatening to beat him up. Diaz was handcuffed, and claimed that he was trying to read Horrocks’ badge number.

“Did he try to strike you?” city attorney Clayton Hutch-ins asked at Horrocks’ civil service hearing.

“I didn’t give him a chance,” Horrocks replied.

Horrocks, 6-feet, 1 inch-tall and 235 pounds, said that in order to “take control” of the youth, he pinned Diaz against a wall and “punched him a couple of times.”

Horrocks told the civil service board that he had been provoked by the two boys, something the youths denied. It’s hard to believe that Horrocks just started flailing away at the two young men. But it’s impossible to excuse a police officer who beats handcuffed suspects.

“An officer has a duty and an obligation to accept verbal and other abuses when it is of no physical danger to him,” Chief Pfeifer told the civil service commission. “That goes with wearing the badge and the uniform.” Commission chairman Burns Parum justified the decision by noting that Horrocks “could have knocked their heads off.” Which is like saying that Horrocks benevolently chose to be only a little bit brutal.

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