Lawsuit accuses Buda PD officers of using excessive force

For the second time in the span of a year, a lawsuit has been filed against the city of Buda and at least one of its police officers accusing the use of excessive force.

According to the suit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. Western District Court of Texas Austin Division, Leonard Miguel Garcia, of Buda, accuses police officers DeMerriel Young and Kellie Metz of violating his 14th amendment rights.

The claim comes after the officers are shown on body camera footage restraining and tasing Garcia during an altercation while serving a Child Protective Services order at his home in January 2016. Garcia was not under investigation by CPS.

The city was also named as a defendant in the case as the violations were “committed as a result of policies and customs” and that the municipality has “inadequate policies” regarding use of force, according to the suit.

Brittany Tate, Buda Police Department spokesperson, said they have not received a copy of the suit at this time and couldn’t provide comment.

“Without receiving the suit, I can’t speak on it,” Tate said. “We’re not sure what it entails or its about.”

See video of the incident here.

Robert Ranco, an attorney with the Carlson Law Firm that is representing Garcia, said he became aware of the incident while investigating a separate lawsuit accusing Young of excessive force.

In October 2016, Ranco filed a lawsuit on behalf of Juan and Guadalupe Martinez of Buda, who accused Young of using excessive force during a 2014 incident at the Walmart in Buda.

Ranco said he requested and received body camera footage of Garcia’s incident during the discovery phase of the Martinez trial. The outcome of the Martinez case is pending.

Garcia’s lawsuit stems from a January 21, 2016 incident when officers arrived at his home with a representative from CPS, who had an order to remove two children from the home.

Ranco  said his client and his wife were fostering their two grandchildren while CPS conducted an investigation against the children’s parents.

Ranco said his client was not under investigation and didn’t do anything wrong.

Garcia granted the officers access to the home and he proceeded to sit on his couch, the suit said.

While Young and others were speaking about the order, Garcia stood up and began to walk forward, but not moving toward either of the officers, the suit claims. Young told Garcia to sit down, with Garcia stopping his movement.

Garcia, according to the suit, asked for the officer to leave or present a search warrant. Young “refused to provide an order or warrant” and asked Garcia to sit down several times.

Garcia turned and started walking back toward the couch when “without notice,” Young pushed him down to the couch, almost on top of a child, the suit claims.

Young pinned Garcia down, who according to the suit was “not kicking or punching anyone.”

Metz then moved toward Garcia with her taser drawn and instructed Garcia to stop resisting. According to the suit, Garcia was not resisting.

He “continued to be static” while pinned down when he was then tased.

“Due to the actions of Officers Metz and Young, (Garcia) suffered severe injuries and damages,” the suit alleges.

Ranco said he sees similar incidents “far too often” and that he said officers and departments are “reluctant to admit they make mistakes.”

He also said the city has issues when it comes to its policy regarding the use of force. He said in neither the Garcia or Martinez case was Young threatened, and that officers are “supposed to have a discussion unless there’s a imminent threat” and de-escalate a situation.

“When there is no accountability and no reprimand or suspension, officers are bound to repeat themselves,” Ranco said. “

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