A Muskegon police officer with a history of alleged misconduct has been fired. The action came after an October 4th incident where the police chief says officer Ramiro Pena used excessive force against a 16-year-old.
It's not the first time Pena has been accused of using excessive force - and also not the first time he's been fired for it.
The incident in question happened when Pena pulled a car over on the south side of the city after a short chase where he crashed into the back of the car. The driver ran, but Pena and several other officers handcuffed the 16-year-old passenger. Pena was then left alone with the teen, and according to police chief Tony Kleibecker, who would not go into detail, Pena used excessive force while the 16-year-old was lying on the ground.
They were out of the view of the in-car camera, but the audio was recorded. The 16 year old never made a complaint, and the other officers didn't say anything either, but because Pena's car was involved in a crash, the department reviewed the DVD recording.
"There was no physical injury to the young man, he did not require any medical attention, but it is of great concern to us as far as the level of force that was applied in this particular circumstance," Kleibecker said.
And this particular circumstance was not the first involving Ramiro Pena. He was investigated several times in the 1990's, and even put on trial for allegedly beating a man following a traffic stop. Pena was acquitted of aggravated assault, and was fired, although an arbitrator reinstated him. The victim successfully sued the city.
There was another allegation in 1999, where a state police investigation found that Pena again used excessive force.
Pena has already filed a grievance through the union for the October 4th incident, and his firing will go through arbitration.
If history repeats itself, Pena may be back, something chief Kleibecker does not want.
"If a 3rd party arbitrator who has no ties to this community puts him back on, then we'll have to live with it, but already in my mind I don't think he should be a police officer in this community," Kleibecker says.
The Muskegon police union president was out of town Monday, and we could not contact Ramiro Pena. Chief Kleibecker says he hopes Pena's firing shows city residents the police department will not tolerate inappropriate behavior.