Lawsuit accuses city of Hitchcock, others of wrongful arrest

John Suayan Apr. 8, 2016, 9:16am


Claiming he was unjustly arrested for an apparent lack of city utilities at his Hitchcock residence, Larry J. Gaston has initiated legal action.

Gaston filed a lawsuit against the City of Hitchcock, Galveston County, Hitchcock Mayor Anthony Matranga, Hitchcock Chief of Police John Hamm, Hitchcock police officer John Jenkins and several unnamed individuals on April 4 in the Galveston County 10th District Court over the apprehension in question.

Court papers show that three police officers, including Jenkins, went to Gaston’s home on the morning of April 5, 2014 and questioned him about water service. Per the complaint, Jenkins spoke to Gaston with an angry tone.

“Officer Jenkins made angry statements to the plaintiff to the effect of ‘We are going to clean this City up!’ and ‘Don’t you know who I am?!,’” the original petition says.

“After the plaintiff directly questioned why Officer Jenkins was so agitated, Officer Jenkins ordered one of the junior police officers to ‘Take Him!’.”

Authorities allegedly did not inform Gaston of why he was being arrested nor read him his rights. Gaston was held in the Hitchcock City Jail until April 6, 2014.

According to the suit, the city did not have an ordinance “that made not having city utilities illegal much less an offense leading to possible arrest.”

Hitchcock officials purportedly promised the plaintiff that he would not face any charges if he complied with Hamm’s, then a code enforcement official, request. Despite adhering to the request, the original petition states, Gaston was again arrested on May 14, 2014.

Consequently, he seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

Attorney Fread Houston of The Law Office of Fread Houston in Austin is representing the complainant.

Galveston County 10th District Court Case No. 16-CV-0396

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