HOUSTON – A man says Houston police wrongly accused him of being illegal and in a gang on Tuesday outside a Home Depot located on Interstate 45 and Woodridge.
Speaking through a translator, a 24-year-old Mexican national shared his story with the media. He did not want to be identified.
The man said he was outside the store, talking on a phone, when two officers approached him and asked to see identification. He said they also questioned two other Hispanic men.
“They asked him where he was from, if he was Mexican,” the translator said. “Then the officer grabbed them, turned them around and pulled out his wallet from his pocket.”
The victim said the officers accused him of being in a gang and entering the country illegally. The man said he later produced a visa proving he could stay through 2018.
He said the police officers eventually let him go, but the case caught the attention of Houston United, a coalition of immigrant rights groups.
On Thursday, the group handed HPD a letter demanding an investigation and an explanation.
The police department also shared its side of the story.
According to a HPD spokesman, the men were drinking beer in the parking lot. Officers on patrol said they stopped to ask the men questions, but they did not cooperate.
They eventually took them to a station to be identified and charged them with loitering, a Class C misdemeanor.
Nearly a dozen immigrant workers outside the Home Depot on Thursday said that they are rarely harassed by security or the Houston Police Department.