La Marque residents sue Texas City cops over unlawful arrest

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Jul 31, 2012

GALVESTON - La Marque residents George Sanford III and Janice Hendley are suing over their arrest in front of their residence two years ago, recent court documents say.

A lawsuit targeting the city of Texas City, Texas City Mayor Matt T. Doyle, Texas City Police Chief Robert Burby and other individuals asserts Sanford and Hendley's constitutional rights were violated when they were taken into custody "for no apparent reason" on July 12, 2010.

The original petition, filed July 11 in Galveston County District Court, recalls how the complainants were about to leave their home with nearly $4,000 from an income tax return in their possession when Texas City police officer John Thorn approached the vehicle and demanded that Sanford get out of the car.

According to the suit, Thorn, who reportedly pointed a gun, physically yanked Sanford by the neck and forced him face down on the ground. Hendley was also ordered to get out of the vehicle, the suit states.

The plaintiffs state Thorn and fellow officers Arthur Lee and Manuel Johnson then proceeded to search their car despite the lack of a warrant or consent, adding their money was also seized.

Afterwards, the complainants were transported to the Texas City Jail where L.W. Fowler, another officer, informed them that they were brought in for "tax evasion."

The suit further alleges the jailers did not give Sanford medical attention though he notified them he was diabetic and the plaintiffs were never told the real reason behind their apprehension other than a belief that Sanford was the brains behind "a small drug cartel."

Sanford says he was taken to the Galveston County Jail three days later, and upon posting bond, learned that his vehicle was impounded and the respondents took pictures of his property.

He adds the defendants returned $2,445 of the $4,700 taken during the arrest in question and he filed a report and a complaint with Burby's office and the internal affairs department to no avail.

Lee, Johnson and Fowler are co-defendants in the suit.

Consequently, the complainants seek at least $30,000 in damages and a jury trial.

They are representing themselves in the case.

The litigation has been assigned to Galveston County 56th District Court Judge Lonnie Cox.

Case No. 12-cv-1492

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