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WEBSTER, Texas - Webster police used a Taser on a pastor and pepper spray to disperse members of his congregation Wednesday after they said the pastor tried to interfere with a traffic stop of a member of his church.
Jose Elias Moran, 42, was charged with interfering in the duties of a police officer during a traffic stop on the Iglesia Profetica Peniel parking lot southeast of Houston.
An incident report on the department's Web site said Officer Raymond Berryman tried to calm Moran and arrest him. But police said he pushed the officer, went inside the church and returned with 40 other congregants.
The family disputed the police account, saying Moran did not lay a hand on the police officer. Congregants say they were in the church for an early morning prayer when the incident unfolded.
Moran, witnesses say, went to assist the church member by asking the police what had happened. They said the officer grew angry and began to yell, causing Moran to flee inside the church.
Moran's son Miguel said 30 witnesses saw the police officer turn aggressive and repeatedly kick the door of the church. Several members were hit with pepper spray and children were present, Miguel Moran said.
"They treated him as if he were a drug dealer or murderer, but he is a pastor that tries to help the community," Moran said in Spanish. "The police always want to be right but they are not."
Moran's wife, Maria, said she tried to help her husband after he was hit with the Taser but police threatened to arrest her.
"My husband has a heart condition and with electrocution who knows what could've happened," Maria Moran said, who added the police told them her husband was taken to Clear Lake hospital.
The family posted bond, according to Miguel Moran, and were waiting for information from police about his father's status.
Miguel Moran said the family had not yet gone to the hospital.
"A pastor has to tend to his flock," Maria Moran said. "That is all he was doing."
Police Sgt. James Lovel did not specify Moran's status, except to say he was in custody and negotiations for bail were taking place Wednesday night.