SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Black jogger who spent nearly two days in jail after mistakenly being arrested by San Antonio police because he fit the description of an assault suspect says it was a traumatic experience that no one should have to experience.
Mathias “Marty” Ometu, a 33-year-old insurance agent, was misidentified as an assault suspect on Aug. 25, wrestled into a patrol vehicle and jailed on charges of having assaulted two officers during his arrest.
“I was guilty before proven innocent,” Ometu said Wednesday in his first public comments about the case, the San Antonio Express-News reported. “I was told to calm down, but there is nothing calm about placing an innocent man into the back of a police vehicle.”
Ometu said it was frustrating being stopped by the officers and humiliating being strip-searched in jail. He also described feeling hopeless while stuck behind bars.
“I experienced true darkness during this period of isolation,” Ometu said at a news confference. “I thought about my job, what people would think of me, my record. Thousands of thoughts flew into my head, each gaining momentum of completely breaking me.”
Ometu’s arrest made headlines, coming two days after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and during a period of intense scrutiny of the police treatment of Black people since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
San Antonio’s police chief, William McManus, defended the arrest, saying the officers “acted appropriately” even though they misidentified him based on a sketchy description. However, he and Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales agreed to drop the case and expunge Ometu’s record.
Ometu was freed Aug. 27 after several friends paid a portion of his $20,000 bond on behalf of his family.