Wapato Mayor Sued by Officer Over Shocking Post-Shooting Comments
In the wake of a shooting involving a Wapato police officer last summer, shocking social media comments made by the town's mayor could result in a major lawsuit.
Last August, Officer Michael Compos and Sergeant Erhardt of the Wapato police department tried to take Mario Torres into custody after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. He locked himself in a bathroom, refusing commands to exit and surrender.
When Compos and Erhardt broke down the door, Torres grabbed Erhardt's Tazer and used it on his leg, knocking him into the tub. He then went for Compos' gun and tried to grab it from him. After a struggle, Compos shot Torres several times, killing him. Yakima County Prosecutor's investigation exonerated both officers, saying it was justified, given Torre's violent attempts to hurt or kill the officers.
However, Mayor Tony Guzman took to social media, and made the following comments about Officer Compos:
"I hope they prosecute him to the Fullest extent of the law!! He deserves to die in prison." He also called Compos a piece of excrement, and said "It's people like you that give Latinos a bad name. You're a disgrace to the Wapato PD! IF you have an ounce of dignity never show your face in Wapato, and take the Chief with you!!"
He made other disparaging remarks, and now Officer Compos has filed a $1.5 million dollar defamation lawsuit! Compos says the Mayor's comments have made the city a hostile work environment. Mayor Guzman has also faced a recall petition that had, at last report, at least 197 signatures calling for his resignation.
If the suit is ignored by the city and the situation not addressed, sources say Compos will proceed and pursue the suit.
Some reports indicate there was familiarity between the suspect, the officer, the Mayor and the family of the victim, but that is not entirely clear.
The Mayor tried to claim the family (of the slain man) was 'on him' and he should have phrased it differently, and he also claimed the comments were made without knowing what happened with the shooting. He has tried to say he was not briefed by the officers and chief.
Critics say regardless of briefing or not, his social media remarks indicate he is not fit for leadership of the city, especially for throwing police under the bus and making irresponsible and defaming remarks about city workers.
To make matters more complicated, despite the investigation by the Yakima Prosecutor's office proving the shooting was justified, some special interest groups are trying to get the U.S. Justice Department involved. Critics of the Mayor say his comments only inflamed the tense situation even more.