Union leader claims police assault act of retaliation

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau May 13, 2009, 2:16pm

GALVESTON � A Galveston union leader claims he was a victim of police brutality in retaliation for his efforts to stop illegal activities by the police officers at the Port of Galveston.

Ted O'Rourke, president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 20, claims he was assaulted at the port on Dec. 2, 2007.

He alleges he approached port Officer Ernie Perkins about a parking ticket only to be assaulted by Perkins.

O'Rourke and his wife Charlotte filed suit against the Port of Galveston in Galveston County District Court.

The plaintiffs allege that Perkins attacked O'Rourke in retaliation for his extensive efforts to stop port officers from siphoning tip money from various porters.

"The defendants, acting singly and in combination, concert, and conspiracy with themselves and others, engaged in practices to intimidate, assault, and accost the plaintiff, Ted O'Rourke, and others," the suit says.

The suit states that Perkins grabbed O'Rourke by the neck and would not let go. O'Rourke then filed a complaint with the port and the Board of Trustees for the Galveston Wharves.

According to the complaint, O'Rourke learned that Perkins was the subject of several past complaints.

O'Rourke requested a copy of the security tape showing the altercation, but port officials denied his request citing national security.

"The port responded that the tape had been destroyed," the suit says. "It can be inferred from these untruthful and conflicting justifications, that the port continues its policy of protecting rogue officers."

The plaintiffs claim they attended a hearing to resolve the matter, but without the tape the hearing was not in their favor.

The suit alleges the port continuously refuses to discipline any corrupt officers. The O'Rourkes claim their names have been wrongfully maligned and the entire incident caused Charlotte O'Rourke, a former port employee, to suffer a serious seizure.

"The plaintiffs have additionally suffered some or all of the following: medical or psychiatric expenses, lost wages, and damages due to pain and suffering, emotional distress, or damage to reputation," the original petition states.

Perkins is among the defendants in the suit.

Represented by Houston attorney Jeffrey Seely, the O'Rourkes request a jury trial.

Galveston County 10th District Court Judge David Garner is presiding over the case.

Case No. 09CV0692

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