Woman's $5M civil rights suit alleges police officer ex-husband planted drugs in vehicle

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Nov. 13, 2013, 1:52pm

HOUSTON - A Madisonville woman is pursuing legal action in response to a November 2011 traffic stop which resulted in her arrest for alleged drug possession.

In a lawsuit filed Nov. 8 in Houston federal court, Laura Covington alleges the arrest was a setup by Madisonville Police Sergeant Jeffery Covington, her ex-husband.

She insists the methamphetamine she was found with came from her former spouse and another officer, who were believed to have secured the drug from a local criminal.

A trooper from the Texas Department of Public Safety took her into custody after he located the controlled substance in a magnetic key holder under her vehicle on Nov. 9, 2011.

He took the claimant to the Madison County Jail where she was booked on felony drug charges.

The suit claims Jeffery Covington informed the trooper about the drug two months before the arrest, which was reportedly a flashpoint in a custody battle between the Covingtons.

According to Laura Covington, Jeffery Covington said he was "going to have someone plant drugs" on her so he could win custody of their two children.

The trooper testified "he believed the drugs to have been under the vehicle for some time based on certain facts surrounding his discovery of the drugs" and he "did not find any in the vehicle."

Hair follicle tests revealed "no drugs whatsoever in the system of the plaintiff," and the children were subsequently returned to her.

The suit states Jeffery Covington and then-MPD patrol deputy Justin Barham worked with someone named Jeremy Kidd on the acquisition and placement of the drugs.

The officers supposedly committed the act for which Laura Covington sues "in their capacity as officers of law enforcement," the original petition says.

According to the suit, the attorney general's office became involved later, and Jeffery Covington was arrested and charged with delivery for a controlled substance, retaliation and official oppression.

Barham, who later worked for the Madison County District Attorney's Office, was also arrested and charged for the same offenses.

Meanwhile, Laura Covington did not face prosecution for her arrest, but she claims the ordeal damaged her financially and emotionally.

Barham, Kidd, the city of Madisonville, Madisonville police, Madison County and its district attorney's office join her ex-spouse as co-defendants in the case.

Consequently, the plaintiff seeks $5 million in damages.

A jury trial is requested.

Attorney J. Paxton Adams of Huntsville is representing Laura Covington.

Case No. 4:13-CV-3300

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