GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - A former Gretna Police officer has been fired and arrested in connection with the April 22 beating of a handcuffed suspect.
Robert Wallow, 46, surrendered to authorities at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center on Friday. He faces charges of simple battery and malfeasance in office. Wallow had been with the Gretna Police Department for 18 months and had past experience with another agency, according to a City of Gretna news release.
On April 22 just after 3 a.m., Wallow and other officers responded to a burglar alarm at Latino Express at 61 Westbank Expressway. When they arrived they saw an unoccupied vehicle with the engine running in front of the business. The front door of the store had been busted in and a cash register and money were on the sidewalk. When officers approached, they said they saw a subject in a black jacket and ski mask exiting the shattered front door.
Officers ordered him to the ground, and he complied and was handcuffed. A magazine was found in one of his pockets and a gun stolen in a Metairie burglary was found in his car, according to police.
The business was equipped with surveillance cameras, and the burglary and arrest were recorded.
On Aug. 25, the Police Department was conducting an inquiry into an internal matter when it was learned that excessive force may have been used in the April 22 arrest. A criminal investigation was launched and Wallow was placed on administrative leave.
Investigators reviewed the surveillance video and interviewed the suspect, identified as 21-year-old Carlos Gustavo Pineda. They said the video shows Wallow approaching Pineda, who is on the ground, and dragging him a few feet away from the front door of the business. Wallow then is allegedly seen punching Pineda three times in the head and neck. Wallow then straddles Pineda, who is on his stomach, and handcuffs his hands behind his back. Wallow then stands up and kick Pineda in his torso, according to investigators. Wallow is then seen putting his leg on Pineda's back and activating the flashlight on his service weapon as he appears to be talking to Pineda. Wallow then stands up and kicks Pineda in the head and torso, police said
Pineda eventually pleaded guilty to the April 22 burglary and three other burglaries in July. Police said he has several burglary cases pending in the 24th Judicial Court, as well as an immigration hold.
Gretna Police Chief Authur Lawson said his department is looking into why it took so long for the other officers who were on the scene April 22 to come forward with the excessive force information. He also said that another officer is on administrative leave related to the incident, but would not go into detail.