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Home  >  Topics  >  Less Lethal

November 02, 2005
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Texas officers won't be charged in pepper spray death

The Associated Press

DALLAS- A grand jury has declined to indict two U.S. police officers in the death of a Peruvian man who was pepper-sprayed during a scuffle this summer.

Late Tuesday, the jury said it found no probable cause to file charges against Officers Laura Gilmore and Gino Ruatta, involved in the Aug. 4 altercation with Edgar Vera, 45.

Relatives say Vera was in the Dallas suburb of Allen waiting outside another family member's house when police arrived in response to a suspicious person call and learned Vera had an outstanding warrant for a seatbelt violation.

Authorities said Vera stopped breathing after they used pepper spray to subdue him when he began struggling with officers. Officers tried to resuscitate Vera and took him to a hospital.

Vera, a father of two boys living in Arlington, was placed on life support and died two weeks later.

The incident drew international attention and sparked outrage in Peru. About 50 protesters on Aug. 12 stood outside the U.S. Embassy in Lima to protest Vera's treatment.

The two officers will remain on paid administrative leave until the conclusion of an internal investigation, said police spokesman Cpl. John Felty.

"We're relieved. We felt that the officers did stay within policy," Felty said.

The FBI also was investigating for possible civil rights violations.

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