A Houston-area family has filed a Federal lawsuit against three Harris County, Texas, officers after a subpoena of video footage from a 2011 ordeal revealed the cops used excessive force against the family following a routine traffic stop.
The September 2011 incident involved plaintiff David Scherz and four other family members, including his mother. Police pulled over Scherz for allegedly running a stop sign in front of his own home. The subpoenaed video begins with a compliant Scherz already in handcuffs and being placed on the ground. There’s no public evidence of how a routine stop so quickly escalated to such a degree that the suspect needed to be restrained.
But the actions of the police at the scene offer a self-explanatory narrative of everything that follows, once Scherz’s mother comes outside to find out what’s going on. One of the officers placed her in custody for “interference with public duties,” as backup began to arrive to help make sure everyone stayed on the ground.
In all, five family members were arrested and charged with something. And the charges against all five, including Scherz, were later dropped by the Harris County District Attorney’s office, which later confirmed that none of the charges — including the original traffic stop — was warranted.
At the 2:02 video mark, any doubt is erased that this incident offers some gray area for interpretation. Deputy Constable Jimmie Drummond, who now serves as a police captain in another county, is seen running up to Scherz, who had been handcuffed and lying prone on the ground for several minutes, and repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. Drummond, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall and not thin, later told a reporter he remembered only “kicking a dog, but not a person.”
Randall Kallinen, the attorney who filed the Federal suit, told The Houston Chronicle there’s no question the police acted far outside the scope of their training and turned a benign situation into an explosive one.
“He [Drummond] kicked him [Scherz] five times, broke his ribs, that’s definitely excessive force,” said Kallinen. “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. 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.”
In all, five people were arrested and jailed: Scherz, his father, his mother, his aunt and his sister, Elizabeth Scherz. One officer can be heard in subpoenaed audio from the incident targeting Elizabeth Scherz, saying “get her — she has a camera.” She was charged with felony assault of a police officer.