Houston, officers sued for excessive use of force

By Carol Ostrow | Apr 16, 2015

HOUSTON – A Fort Bend County man is suing over claims he was injured after officers used a Taser and excessive force before falsely arresting him.

William and Nancy Driver filed a lawsuit Oct. 16 in U.S. District Court's Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas against the city of Houston, Chief of Police Charles McClelland, Rafael Melgoza, Gregory Green, Luis Hernandez and three unnamed officers, citing the use of excessive force.

According to the complaint, on Feb. 21, 2013, William Driver and two other individuals, Adrian Morin and Jared Bennett, arrived at the tent of one of their employer's vendors, Sun-Coast, during the annual Houston Livestock and Rodeo Cook-Off.

The complaint states there was a large crowd at the entrance, and Green, a Houston police officer who was working as a security guard at the tent, shoved Driver and said that he told them to back up.

Driver says he told the officer he hadn't heard the directive but began to back up, and the officer continued to follow and shove them, and when Driver asked him to stop, the officer escalated the situation by using expletives.

The complaint states Driver and his companions decided to leave the tent and walked away, when they ran into other companions about 30 yards from the entrance. The lawsuit states Morin then felt a blow to his back and turned around to find Green who was yelling at Morin not to hit him, despite the fact that Morin did not even know Green was behind him.

At the same time, Driver says, someone tackled his legs and someone else attempted to put him into a choke hold before Melgoza and Hernandez held him to the ground, while Green and another individual used a Taser on him repeatedly.

Driver said the amount of electricity was enough to make him stop breathing and lose consciousness, and when he awoke, he was hand-cuffed. The complaint states the officers took each other's statements but threatened to arrest several witnesses who contradicted their stories, even erasing a video of the incident on one witness's phone.

According to the lawsuit, Driver and a witness who had recorded the incident were arrested, and even though Nancy Driver bonded her husband out that morning, he was not released until later that evening. Driver says he experiences persistent pain in his neck, headaches, worsening vision and high blood pressure, which are all known consequences of excessive electric shock. The defendant officers are accused of the violation of civil rights, assault, false arrest, malicious prosecution and use of excessive force, while defendant McClelland and the city of Houston are accused of failure to implement appropriate policies, customs and practices, or failing to properly train and supervise officers in the proper use of force and establishing policies, procedures, practices and customs regarding arrests that result in the excessive use of force.

The Drivers are seeking actual, compensatory and punitive damages, interest, attorneys' fees and court costs. They are being represented in the case by attorney Kevin R. Michaels in Houston.

U.S. District Court's Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas case no. 4:14-CV-02941

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