On paper -- and video -- firing Jesus Martinez was a straightforward call for Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Martinez was filmed "using his right knee to pin the pedestrian's right elbow down while raising the pedestrian's left elbow and hand upward causing him severe pain," according to the police department. The video, shot in June and lasting about three-and-a-half minutes, doesn't show the beginning of the incident, but Martinez said when he tried to arrest Joe Wesson for aggressive panhandling, Wesson took a swing at him. During the fight that followed, Martinez pepper sprayed Wesson and ended up with some of the spray in his own eyes, he said.
Witnesses to the arrest contradicted what Martinez said, saying there was no fight, and the officer was fired by the department for using "unnecessary and/or inappropriate force against a citizen."
The backlash to Martinez's firing began almost immediately. Deep Ellum businesses and residents lauded Martinez as an example of engaged community policing. He did things like give out his cell phone number and show up at community meetings, they said. Wesson was a consistent nuisance in the neighborhood. Martinez may have gone a little too far, but he was just doing his job, Dallas Fraternal Order of Police President Richard Todd told The Dallas Morning News. "Jesus Is My Homeboy" T-shirts were printed, and Deep Ellum clubs like Three Links featured Martinez on their social media and urged his rehiring
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Wednesday, a group of Martinez supporters marched from Deep Ellum to City Hall to ask City Manager A.C. Gonzalez to get Martinez his job back. They were met in council chambers by three council members -- Adam Medrano, Philip Kingston and Scott Griggs -- wearing the T-shirts.
"Simply put, we want our officer back," Stephanie Johnson, a photographer and organizer of the Martinez supporters, said. "He is an invaluable part of our community and the city of Dallas as a whole."
Medrano said that the support for Martinez was notable in light of the recent Dallas protests against the use of force by police.
"This is a time when we're seeing protests against police officers, we have this community here supporting one of ours," he said. "I hope you really take a look at this incident."