Watch Gretna police officer kick handcuffed suspect; officer fired, arrested

A Gretna police officer was fired and arrested on criminal charges, accused of kicking a handcuffed burglary suspect in an incident caught on video, authorities said Friday (Sept. 16). Robert Wallow, 47, was booked with simple battery and malfeasance in office, Chief Arthur Lawson said. 

"This is not one of the brightest days of the Gretna Police Department," Lawson said. 

Wallow had responded to a business burglary April 22 when surveillance cameras recorded him kicking suspect Carlos Gustavo Pineda as the man lay handcuffed on the ground.

At least one other officer has been placed on administrative leave, Lawson said, though he did not name the officer. The department is still interviewing officers about the incident. 

The burglary occurred about 3:05 a.m. at Latino Express, 61 West Bank Expressway, Gretna, Deputy Chief Anthony Christiana said. Pineda exited the building wearing a ski mask and was taken into custody. 

Video of the incient shows Wallow delivering at least three kicks to Pineda's side as other officers arrived to check the building. Police believed there to be one, maybe two additional suspects inside, Lawson said. 

Neither Pineda nor his attorney ever reported any excessive force, according to Lawson. Gretna police didn't learn of the incident until about two weeks ago, when they opened an internal inquiry into another, unrelated matter. 

Lawson declined to identify the nature of the other internal inquiry, but said it did not concern Wallow. However, the allegation of excessive force came to light, and the department opened an internal investigation into Wallow's actions, according to Lawson. 

Both the Gretna police and the Jefferson Parish district attorney's office had a copy of the surveillance video, which had been collected as evidence in the burglary investigation. 

Once officials viewed the video, they opened a criminal investigation, Christiana said.

In the video, Wallow is seen punching Pineda three times on the right side of his head and neck before Pineda is handcuffed, police said. 

After the suspect is cuffed, Wallow kicked Pineda in the side. He then kicked Pineda twice more in the side and head, police said. 

"Based on this investigation, and the camera surveillance footage, it is clear that Officer Wallow had committed battery on Mr. Pineda by both striking him with a closed fist as well as kicking Pineda to the head and torso. At the time of the battery, Carlos Pineda posed no danger to Officer Wallow," Lawson said in a written statement. 

Wallow had been with the department for about 18 months. 

He previously served in the Westwego Police department, according to Lt. Eric Orlando, a department spokesman. Wallow graduated from the Gretna Police Academy in early 2012 and joined the Westwego police, Orlando said. Wallow did not have any discipline problems there. He resigned from Westwego police
in 2015 to join Gretna police, Orlando said. 

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