On Friday, the Houston Police Department filed a motion for protective order in a federal lawsuit brought two residents, who allege officers seized them in their home at gunpoint without cause.
As previously reported, Barbara Ann Thomas and John Thomas filed a lawsuit Sept. 19 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against Officer J.J. Williams, HPD and the city of Houston.
HPD’s motion asks the court to keep the plaintiff from sharing any sensitive police documents unearthed during discovery from the media, public and those associated with other lawsuits or potential lawsuits.
The Thomases allege they were living at 5816 Hirsch Road, Houston, on May 21, 2014, when Williams signed an affidavit for a search warrant for 5818 Hirsch Road, an address that does not exist, the suit states.
In his affidavit, Williams swore that he utilized a confidential informant to purchase drugs from 5818 Hirsch Road.
Court records show Williams admits that he watched the CI, whom on numerous occasions has provided officers with honest and reliable information, go to a duplex located on the east side of the 5800 block of Hirsch Road and purchase crack cocaine.
“Defendant acted as reasonable police officer before and after the execution of the search warrant,” the defendants’ answer states. “Based on the description in the search warrant, Defendant denies having entered the wrong home.”
When HPD arrived at the Thomases’ home, they forcibly entered by knocking down the front door, which they still have not replaced, the suit alleges.
The police then “found plaintiffs therein huddled together in fear on the couch.” They “seized plaintiffs at gunpoint” and “detained plaintiffs for approximately 30 minutes.”
The suit alleges HPD continued searching the plaintiffs’ home after realizing they entered the wrong residence.
The plaintiffs suffered property damage and mental anguish, which was exacerbated by John Thomas having been diagnosed as having special mental health needs, and the arrest by HPD without probable cause or reasonable suspicion caused him post-traumatic stress disorder, the suit alleges.
In their complaint, the plaintiffs say Williams failed to take a reasonable precautionary measure, did not watch a confidential informant go into their home, falsely swore he watched a confidential informant enter the premises and took no pictures of the Thomas home before searching there.
Williams admits that he did not take any pictures of the duplexes located on the 5800 block of Hirsch Road.
The Thomases seek actual and punitive damages, plus attorney fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.
Attorneys Meagan Hassan and William Pieratt Demond of Demond and Hassan, in Houston, represent the plaintiffs.
The defendants are represented by Houston City Attorney David Feldman.
Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case number: 4:14-CV-2711