Fort Worth Police Investigate Officer Who Sprayed Bikers

Fort Worth police said the officer documented use of spray in report

Fort Worth police removed an officer from patrol duties Monday after a video posted to YouTube showed him using pepper spray on a group of motorcyclists as they rode past him Sunday afternoon.

Five people were treated at the scene for exposure to the spray and one man was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, said Medstar spokesman Matt Zavadsky. Records show police called an ambulance shortly after 3 p.m. 

The department announced Officer Figeuroa, whose first name was not given, would be reassigned to an administrative job while an internal investigation is underway. 

Police spokeswoman Cpl. Tracey Knight confirmed late Monday that the officer used pepper spray on the passing bikers and documented it in a report. 

Motorcyclist Chase Stone posted the video on his YouTube channel with the caption, "MUST WATCH!!! This is how our law enforcement chooses to 'protect and serve.'"

The video appears to show a Fort Worth police officer engaged in a traffic stop with the driver of a red pickup truck when a large number of motorcycles begin to pass their location. As the riders pass, video recorded on a camera worn by one of the riders shows the officer exit his patrol car and spray a yellow mist into the air in the direction of the roadway.

The footage was slowed down and zoomed in to highlight the officer's actions.

Fort Worth police said they received several 911 calls from drivers reporting hundreds of motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic along Highway 287.

An incident report obtained by NBC 5 confirmed Fort Worth Police Officer W. Figueroa pulled over a red pickup truck along Highway 287 at about 3 p.m. Sunday for "blocking traffic to rocord [sic] motorcycles driving recklessly."

Stone's YouTube channel contains at least one video showing dozens of trick riders performing stunts on highways, driving in emergency lanes and riding in both lanes of traffic on inner-city roadways -- that video was not recorded Sunday afternoon.

Brittany Botella, who is six months pregnant, said she was driving the red pickup truck and was cited only for driving without a license. One of her passengers, Markus Hernandez, who has asthma, was hospitalized and given breathing treatments after being exposed to the mist, which Botella believed was Mace.

"I looked out my mirror and I seen [sic] all the Mace going towards all the bikes. And then it hit us. And then I started choking and that's exactly what happened," Botella said.

She said the officer initially confiscated their phones but later returned them. 

Hernandez told NBC 5 he and another passenger were riding in the back of the pickup truck and were each ticketed for standing in the back of a moving vehicle.

"I think it's not right. I don't think officers should be able to do that just because they've got a badge. We weren't showing no force of hurting him, none of that. He just jumped out with brute of force and sprayed everybody," Hernandez said. "If he would have gotten one of those bikers there would have been a lot of deaths. It wouldn't just be hurt. People would be dead."

Fort Worth police are investigating a video posted to YouTube that motorcycle riders allege shows an officer spraying Mace on them as they rode past him Sunday afternoon.

Knight said in an email Monday morning, "The Fort Worth Police Department takes any complaint of officer misconduct very seriously and this incident will be investigated thoroughly."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police at 817-392-4270 or 817-355-4222."

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