Their biggest mistake was picking on someone with the ability to defend themselves legally.
So now we know. Harris County Sheriff's Office has major streak of assholism. It's in the tape.
The kicking at the 2:02 mark broke the guy's ribs, but the guy had run a stop sign, and his family was pissed about the way police were acting, so a few broken ribs to preserve public order is no big deal. The guy who did that is now a Captain in another town.
A federal civil rights suit filed Friday by a Houston man claims a Harris County deputy constable held him down and kicked him so hard his rib was broken, an incident captured on patrol car cameras following a traffic stop outside his home.
The stop led to his entire family being arrested and jailed. Prosecutors dropped all the charges, saying there was insufficient evidence of the charges.
David Braxton Scherz Jr., 26, was arrested on Sept. 10, 2011, along with his father, mother, sister and aunt at the home. The family came outside, and his mother could be heard asking deputies why they came on their property. Her son was stopped for running a stop sign and had pulled into the driveway.
The incident began moments after deputies began to question Scherz outside his home in the 17000 block of Ridge Top Drive.
His mother came out on the porch but was told to go back inside or be placed in the patrol cruiser. When she told the deputy he did not have permission to be on her property, he detained her.
Dash-camera video from the one patrol car shows Scherz lying face down in the street with his arms behind him, and deputies holding him down. Another deputy constable identified as Jimmie Drummond walked up and could be seen kicking Scherz five times in the ribs. Later, he appears to give Scherz's head a final kick after he is handcuffed.
Later, an officer dropped his knee on the back of his neck.
Drummond, now a captain with the Montgomery County Constable Pct. 3 office, said he had no comment and added he couldn't remember kicking anyone.
"I remember the incident, but I don't remember kicking anybody on the ground. I remember kicking a dog, but not a person," said Drummond.
All charges against the five family members were dropped last year by Harris County prosecutors, who determined there was no probable cause for their arrests.
Scherz was not given a traffic citation but instead charged with criminal mischief for denting the hood of a deputy's vehicle. Scherz said he was trying to take shoes to his mother, who was being dragged by officers to a patrol car.
"I think that the force they used against my family and I was wrong," said David Scherz. "I don't think they listened when we were trying to see what the problem was to begin with, and I think the methods they used were excessive."
His father, David Braxton Scherz Sr., 58, who goes by his middle name, was arrested on a felony assault charge, accused of striking one of the officers.
David's sister, Elizabeth Scherz, 24, was charged with felony assault of a police officer. On audio and video tapes subpoenaed by defense attorneys, an officer can be heard saying "Get her, she has a camera," as she stood in the driveway filming the arrest of her mother and father. Deputies also confiscated the iPhone the woman was using to film the arrests.
Since the criminal charges were dropped, the family has lodged complaints against the deputies with Pct. 4 Constable Ron Hickman, officials there confirmed. They said they had not seen a copy of the lawsuit.
Civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, who filed the federal suit, said the conduct of the officers was excessive and said the family spent more than $60,000 to defend themselves in court.
"He kicked him five times, broke his ribs, that's definitely excessive force. All of the experts I've talked to said there is no professional police maneuver to kick someone who is being held down, that's not an acceptable tactic by any police department," said Kallinen. "And as cover-up charges, everyone was arrested at the scene and charged with a crime as a means to try to cover up this excess force case."
Clint Davidson, a Houston criminal defense attorney hired by David Scherz, subpoenaed the footage captured by dash-board cameras mounted in the deputies' patrol cars.
"It was a scene that just spun out of control, and the people (deputies) who were out of control were the people who were supposed to be maintaining order - that's what's so unbelievable," Davidson said. "This traffic stop escalated into a major incident."
The Harris County District Attorney's Office confirmed all charges filed against the family by the Pct. 4 constable's office were determined to be unwarranted.
"The indictments against Elizabeth Scherz and David Scherz were dismissed on Feb. 1, 2012, after a careful review of the available evidence," read a statement from the Harris County District Attorney's Office.
"The reviewing prosecutor concluded that the officer's testimony and the other available evidence were insufficient to support the assault allegations."
Constable Pct. 4 Chief Deputy Jim Sumner said the family should have made an official complaint sooner. He said the incident began as a call of an officer needing assistance and that the family "attacked" the responding officers.
"If they felt they were wronged, they could have filed a complaint at anytime but no complaint was ever filed until 30 days ago," said Sumner. "If there is wrongdoing, we'll take whatever action is deemed necessary."
Kallinen said there is no time limit to bring an internal complaint, and once the family had the charges dismissed they did not want to deal with the issue.
It could've been worse
Yvonne Scherz, a 57-year-old petroleum engineer at a local oil company, said her arrest and misdemeanor charges of interference with the peace officer who arrested her son would have ended in conviction if she didn't have the money to hire a lawyer. Prosecutors confirmed charges against her were dismissed in May 2012.
"Unfortunately, the people it is happening to are disenfranchised, they are the people who don't have the means to stand up to the thuggery that's going on," she said. "If my husband and I did not have the resources we have, we would have ended up serving time in jail and a miscarriage of justice would have happened."
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