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Wedding Party Claims Excessive Force Used by Lawmen at Reception

June 16, 1987

ROSENBERG, Texas (AP) _ Police trying to quell a fracas at a wedding reception arrested the groom and eight other people, although witnesses said the dispute already had been settled.

The police ″ruined everything. They ruined the whole party,″ said Leticia Castanadas Arriaga, the 18-year-old bride, who fainted during the melee.

The groom, Pete Arriaga, and other members of the wedding party said at least one of the officers used excessive force during the arrests at the Saturday reception, which drew about 250 people.

The groom’s sister and brother-in-law have filed complaints against Fort Bend County Deputy O.J. Brown.

″We’re taking some statements and we hope to wrap it up right now,″ Fort Bend County Sheriff Gus George said Tuesday. ″It’s a tough second-base call. All we can do is use good judgment and then stand by it.″

Brown faces dismissal from the force, he said.

Felicita Arriaga, the groom’s mother, said there was a problem trying to get security guards for the dance, so one of the bride’s brothers, Harris County sheriff’s deputy Fred Gonzales, agreed to provide security.

The mother said the disturbance began when Gonzales asked one of the groom’s brothers, 21-year-old Modesto Arriaga Jr., for identification when he ordered a beer.

George said Gonzales asked Fort Bend County Deputy Scott Gill, who was at the hall visiting with the manager, for help, and Gill called for backup. About 24 officers from the sheriff’s office and the Richmond and Rosenberg police departments rushed in.

″It got just plum out of hand,″ George said.

Felicita Arriaga, who said the matter had already been settled before the officers arrived, said she was knocked in the head with a pair of handcuffs. She was taken to a hospital and later released.

″It was settled and everyone went back inside. Then, it was like an army,″ she said. ″They (officers) marched to the building and pushed people out of the way.″

Delores Ketchum, 22, who was charged with public intoxication, said she was trying to see what was happening when she was thrown against a pickup truck and pulled by the hair. She suffered bruises on her neck and arms.

Her husband, Michael, was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after he tried to help her, she said.

The groom and his two brothers, Lawrence Arriaga and Modesto Arriaga, were charged with resisting arrest.

The groom was released Sunday from the Fort Bend County Jail on a personal recognizance bond set by the same justice of peace who presided over his wdding. All others arrested also have been released, George said.

The bride, who fainted during the fracas, said the management of the Traveler’s Inn at Rosenberg - where she and the groom had planned to spend their wedding night - provided the only silver lining of the weekend.

After finding out why the couple didn’t show, the management gave them a free room Sunday night, she said.

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