Following arrest, UT student accuses AISD PD officer of excessive force at football game

AddThis

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

A UT student is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 28 for a misdemeanor charge for resisting arrest during the UT-Rice football game on Sept. 12. Alexander Cheng, an honors business and computer science senior, has since accused the arresting officer of police brutality in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.

“Dear Fellow Longhorns, on Saturday 9/12 I was a victim of police brutality and excessive use of force,” Cheng said in a Facebook post to the UT Class of 2017 group after he was released from the County Jail on Sept. 13 on a $4,000 pretrial bond. Cheng deleted the post Tuesday night.

The incident occurred in the final minutes of the first half of the game in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, near sections 26 and 27. Cheng declined to comment.

Austin Independent School District Police Department Officer Christopher Penaloza approached Cheng after a concerned citizen pointed out that Cheng might have been intoxicated, according to the arrest affidavit. Cheng began to resist arrest after Officer Penaloza informed him he was under arrest for public intoxication, according to the affidavit.

According to the affidavit the officer made the arrest on the grounds that he smelled alcohol on Cheng and witnessed Cheng stumble through a row of people. In the affidavit, Penaloza said he and an assisting Department of Public Safety trooper “had to employ several joint locks and muscling techniques to secure Cheng’s hands” because Cheng would not surrender his hands to be put in handcuffs. AISD PD could not be reached for comment.

It is standard procedure for outside law enforcement agencies to provide security services during UT football games, UTPD spokesperson Cindy Posey said in an email statement.

In his Facebook post, Cheng said he arrived late to the game with no alcohol in his system and did not attempt to resist arrest.

“At around 7:45 I remember arriving at the stadium and walking towards the student entry line,” Cheng said in the post. “Then I remember getting tackled from behind, having my head slammed against the concrete ground three times while being yelled at ‘STOP RESISTING’ … I had not incited any violence, I didn’t resist, and I didn’t fight back. I was just walking to see the longhorns win.”

Cheng attached pictures of the injuries he incurred on his face, arms and legs during the arrest to the Facebook post. He deleted the post after it garnered more than 600 likes and dozens of supportive, as well as skeptical, comments from fellow UT students.

“The subject received minor injuries during the arrest,” Posey said in the statement. “The subject was then taken to a medical aid station in DKR and evaluated.”

At the medical station, a UTPD supervisor informed him about the procedure to file a complaint if he desired, Posey said. Cheng was transported to jail after the medical staff tended to his injuries.

Cheng said in the post that his intention for posting publicly was to gather witnesses and video evidence of the incident from those who had been at the game.

Biomedical engineering junior Sam Wicoff said he witnessed the latter half of the incident when the police used force to bring Cheng to the ground.

“Alex was resisting quite a bit, but I do not know what instigated the resistance,” Wicoff said. “[Cheng] wasn’t necessarily a small dude, so the cops had to use enough force to really put him down to the ground. So yeah, it wasn’t like a small amount of force.”

Wicoff said he could not tell whether Cheng was under the influence of alcohol.