Graphic bodycam video shows US police officer tasing teenage refugee from Honduras
San Antonio, Texas – A shocking video showing a law enforcement officer tasing a teenage refugee from Honduras is heightening scrutiny over the treatment of minors who cross the US-Mexico border.
Reveal released body camera footage from May 2020 showing an officer of the la^w responding with unimaginable cruelty to a call about a refugee minor housed in a government shelter.
The 16-year-old boy from Honduras had broken two bed frames and some plastic bins after refusing to go to class. The behavior is fairly normal for a teenage boy, and certainly not out of the ordinary for a young person experiencing such a high degree of trauma.
The teenager is seeking asylum after fleeing from Honduras, where a gang had beaten him up and threatened to kill him. Before the incident, he had been transferred to five separate shelters throughout his nine months since arriving in the US.
When shelter staff told him they wanted to press charges against the boy, Bexar County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Divers said he would wait for his partner to arrive before taking action.
The boy spoke primarily Spanish and repeatedly asked what they were going to do with him. He was not resisting arrest or posing a physical threat to anyone in the room, as the footage shows.
When his partner Deputy Harold Schneider arrived, Divers announced in English, "Ready? I’m going to tase this kid." He proceeded to do just that for 35 seconds. The boy had blood dripping down his body when police handcuffed him.
Upon seeing the teen in this condition, Schneider displayed a horrifying lack of empathy, dubbing the boy "El Stupido."
The incident is part of a pattern of police intervention at migrant children's shelters
Though the video is graphic, the teen's family said they wanted the news outlet to share it to raise awareness for the conditions many migrant children find themselves in after reaching the US.
Indeed, Reveal reports that the incident is part of a disturbing pattern of children's shelters operated by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) turning over minors in its care to local law enforcement. Many of the children were charged with misdemeanors after being accused of fighting, damaging property, or other mental health-related issues.
The charges can then have a negative impact on decisions about the children's asylum cases.
Meanwhile, the boy's grandmother said the boy has started crying more on their weekly phone calls as well as expressing a desire to take his own life. She says he is considering deportation based on his treatment in the shelters and his fear of being tased again, but he is afraid of getting killed if he returns to Honduras.
Since the May 2020 incident, the teen has been transferred four more times to different shelters across the country. Having spent two birthdays in custody, the boy is now 17.
On his next birthday in September, he will be handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for adult detention and will no longer be eligible for a visa for children abandoned by a parent.
The heartbreaking story comes after Vice President Kamala Harris sparked controversy by telling potential migrants "do not come, do not come" during her recent trip to Guatemala.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Bodycam footage/Bexar County Sheriff’s Office