GALVESTON -- A Texas resident is suing four Santa Fe police officers, alleging they violated his civil and constitutional rights during a traffic stop in Galveston County.
Dylan Lee Easter filed a lawsuit Sept. 13 in Galveston County District Court against Arturo Espinosa, Heather Burd, Jennifer Beaver and Jennifer Whittington, alleging denial of due process, malicious prosecution, false arrest and abuse of process.
According to the complaint, on Jan. 13, 2014, at approximately 10:45 p.m., Espinosa initiated a traffic stop on Easter on FM 646 in Santa Fe, under the pretext that the lights over the rear license plate of Easter's car were not illuminating the plate.
Espinosa radioed his location and was joined by officers Burd, Beaver and Whittington.
Easter provided Espinosa his driver's license and proof of insurance but refused to exit his car when asked to do so by Espinosa, the suit says.
The lawsuit states the four officers physically extracted Easter from his car, forced him to the ground, and arrested and charged him with resisting arrest. The officers then searched Espinosa's car, found what was allegedly 0.02 ounces of marijuana, and charged him with possession of a controlled substance, less than 2 ounces, the suit says.
The complaint alleges a video from the dash cam on one officer's car shows the lights above the rear license plate on Easter's car were, in fact, working and illuminating the plate, but Espinosa's dash cam video has "disappeared without explanation."
All charges were subsequently dismissed by the Galveston County criminal district attorney, but the complaint alleges the Santa Fe Police Department has a reputation for making traffic stops without probable cause and using those stops to search and arrest persons.
As a result of the defendants' actions, the plaintiff says he has suffered loss of liberty, humiliation, pain, suffering mental anguish and damage to his reputation.
Easter seeks actual and punitive damages, plus court costs and attorney fees.
He is represented by attorney Jonathan A. Zendeh Del of Zendeh Del & Associates PLLC in Galveston.
Galveston County District Court Case number 15-cv-0967