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A Mission officer accused of excessive force and facing indefinite suspension once received commendations for his accomplishments with the U.S. Air Force.
On Sept. 13, Omar Diaz De Villegas, 29, was handed a letter from Interim Chief Robert Dominguez stating Diaz de Villegas was indefinitely suspended after an investigation into an incident in April. In the letter Dominguez states he has affidavits from officers who saw Diaz De Villegas hit a suspect on the head with his service weapon and then throw him in the back of a police vehicle.
Diaz de Villegas was born in Mission and joined the Air Force in 2005. He worked primarily as a security forces journeyman through 2009, according to documents in his personnel file.
In May 2007, he received an Air Force Commendation Medal for his achievements for transporting prisoners from August 2006 through February 2007 as part of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in Afghanistan.
“His security measures ensured the safe and secure transport of captured enemy combatants to an internment facility,” states a portion of the commendation, signed by Lt. Gen. Gary North of the U.S. Air Force.
Diaz De Villegas also received an Air Force Achievement Medal in June 2009 after serving in Kuwait with the 49th Mission Support Group. The recognition states during that time Diaz De Villegas was the first on the scene when an individual had alcohol poisoning.
“His quick response and decisive actions ensured the timely arrival of medical personnel, preventing further injury and loss of life,” the certificate states.
He earned an associate degree in criminal justice through the Community College of the Air Force and was honorably discharged in 2009. Diaz De Villegas joined Mission PD in March 2011.
According to Dominguez’s letter, one Friday morning in April, Palmview Police Department called on Mission PD to assist officers in a car chase involving a stolen vehicle. Diaz De Villegas had to take evasive maneuvers, pulling off to the side of the road, after the car sped southbound on Inspiration Road off Griffin Parkway.
The officer turned around and joined the pursuit, the letter states. After another officer deployed an “interceptor spike stick,” deflating one of the stolen vehicle’s tires. The driver kept going, losing pieces of the tire along the way. By Veterans Memorial Cemetery, the vehicle was driven onto a dirt path and hit a drainage ditch.
The driver tried to run and was caught by two officers. Diaz De Villegas arrested the passenger, later identified as Omar Pina. Diaz De Villegas requested an ambulance because Pina’s head was bleeding, the letter states. Then, the officer took Pina to the Palmview Police Department.
Later, a lieutenant with Palmview PD called Mission PD and reported that Pina claimed the arresting officer used excessive force, intentionally hitting Pina on the head with the officer’s service weapon. According to the letter, a Palmview officer said he saw Diaz De Villegas hit Pina twice on the head with his service weapon. Another officer said he saw Diaz De Villegas lift Pina into the air while he was handcuffed by grabbing his arm and his crotch and throw him into the back of a patrol unit, according to Dominguez’s letter. One officer told Diaz de Villegas to put Pina down, but he did not, the letter states. It adds that video from patrol units at the scene back up their accounts.
“It is obvious that you were angry and not following appropriate professional police practices in securing and treating a prisoner,” the letter states.
Diaz De Villegas was put on suspension with pay April 19 while an investigation was conducted. The department received affidavits from other officers at the scene as well as from Pina on July 10 stating he was filing a formal complaint. On top of hitting Pina on the head with his gun, Pina added that Diaz de Villegas grabbed his genitalia and said, “This is what you get,” the letter states.
On July 17, Diaz De Villegas was interviewed. According to the letter, Diaz De Villegas said Pina was resisting arrest, moving his hands and looking back at the officer. It states Diaz De Villegas said he didn’t know if Pina had a weapon and he wanted to “Ki….(stutter).”
Diaz De Villegas also said he may have hit Pina on the head unintentionally when trying to turn him over and Pina was kicking his feet, according to the letter. It adds Diaz De Villegas said he picked Pina up by the bicep and inner thigh (possibly touching Pina’s genitals) because he did not want to give Pina a chance to headbutt or kick anyone.
Diaz De Villegas has the right to appeal the suspension under civil service law.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.