Devastating traffic stop.
Sometimes a traffic stop is a small matter having to do with expired tags, a broken light, low tire pressure or some mechanical problem that an officer may notice, and sometimes a traffic stop is due to erratic or strange driving patterns that alert police as was the case in May 2016 when a young man was pulled over for going in the wrong direction on a street in McAllen Texas, resulting in two police officers losing their jobs and severe injury to the driver. The driver was suspected of DUI, put in cuffs and later pulled from the vehicle and beaten by both officers. An excessive force lawsuit was filed against the officers and the department two years later arguing that police personnel “did not have a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm when they exercised excessive force in the detention and arrest…” and that the McAllen Police Department did not have a written policy on the use of force and de-escalation tactics at the time of the incident, amounting to “gross negligence, recklessness and deliberate indifference on behalf” of the city and department.
Use of Force.
Texas Peace Officers are allowed the “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, according to officer training and department policy, to remove the threat of violence by subduing criminals using what is considered “reasonable” force specific to the encounter. Excessive force is using continued force even after a criminal has been subdued, and has been justified in high intensity situations where the potential for serious bodily harm, mass bodily harm, and death were present.
Analysis of Force.
A balance analysis would include how much force will gain control of the situation versus the possibility of injury from the force. Professional police action will be judged on the “how” and “why” of an excessive force action including:
- “Why” – The reason why a police officer would use such force would include: severity of crime being committed; present or near future threat of suspect; scope of damages; and the level of resistance given by the suspect.
- “How” – A strike to a person’s head or face could result in: disfigurement; damage to blood vessels surrounding areas of temple, skull, jaw and ear; and death or spinal cord injuries from striking head or neck.
Police action in this case failed a balance analysis because the situation was controlled, and it was not necessary to use excessive force causing extensive physical injury to the driver.
Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury.
Seek legal counsel.
If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a police officer in McAllen, Texas, you should seek professional legal help by calling the Tijerina Law Firm to file a claim and have an attorney review your case to see if you can sue for damages.
Tijerina Law Firm, P.C.
McAllen Texas Office
4016 N. 22nd Street
McAllen, Texas 78504
FAX: (877) 395-1707
EMAIL US: [email protected]