Two New Orleans police officers were fired this week after being arrested and charged for allegedly beating a Latino man at a bar and calling him a "fake American."
The New Orleans Advocate reported that John Galman and Spencer Sutton, who were in a probationary employment period after graduating from police training academy in December, were charged with simple battery on Tuesday in connection with the assault of 36-year-old George Gomez.
Gomez told the Advocate that one of the men confronted him for wearing military camouflage shirt and pants.
“He asked me if I was American,” Gomez said. “I told him yes, and he got mad because he said I was fake.”
Gomez said he told the officer he was born in the U.S. but grew up in Honduras before returning to New Orleans to serve in the National Guard.
“They kept telling me I was not an American citizen and I was a 'fake American,'" he told the outlet.
Gomez said the two men tried to stop him from driving home in his truck and assaulted him. He was hospitalized with severe injuries after the incident and has since been released.
“It was a violent fight," Gomez said. "It just took me by surprise.”
Court records say that the confrontation began over Gomez’s military service. He served in the Louisiana National Guard for five years, a spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
Law enforcement sources defending Sutton and Galman told the Advocate that the fight occurred after the off-duty officers saw Gomez trailing them and believed Gomez to have been waving a “heavy walking stick” to use as a weapon.
Gomez says that the stick was a cane he uses for back problems.
New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison said in a statement that the investigation “clearly demonstrates that our officers were the aggressors in this incident.”
“Members of our department are expected to comply with the law and adhere to the highest standards of professional conduct, whether on- or off-duty,” Harrison said.
“The swift pace at which the Public Integrity Bureau investigated this incident and the decisive actions taken by the [New Orleans Police Department] today by arresting the officers and starting the termination process clearly demonstrate how seriously our department views their actions.”