Ronald Jones, a Dallas man caught between a malicious police officer and his destination one December night in 2009, went to jail for more than a year after Dallas cop Matthew Antkowiak fabricated a story that seemed to support an aggravated assault charge.
Now Jones is free, and $1.1 million richer, after settling a lawsuit against the city in which video evidence taken from the police cruiser – evidence which wasn’t presented at the time of Jones’ incarceration – shows that every word of Antkowiak’s allegation against the 62 year-old man was false.
Jones, who is black, was set to face trial for allegedly attacking Antkowiak and possessing a crack pipe after the officer, en route to an unrelated call involving two white suspects, spotted him on foot and stopped him. But it was Antkowiak who not only attacked Jones, but also apparently arranged to have the cruiser’s camera turned off long enough to obscure discovery of the alleged crack pipe.
Jones was obviously a confused pedestrian who never saw any of it coming.
According to WFAA in Dallas, Jones’ attorney requested the dash cam footage and revealed its contents only a day before Jones was set to face trial:
“Mr. Jones is walking down the street. Doesn’t fit the description at all,” said his attorney, Don Tittle.
The officer claimed Jones was throwing beer cans, so he pulled him over to arrest him.
“From there, he pulls one of Mr. Jones’ arms up very aggressively and Mr. Jones turns around to see what is going on and why was he being placed under arrest, and from there it goes,” Tittle said.
The officer took Jones to the ground and hit him a few times. The two struggled as more officers arrived.
Two dash camera videos obtained by News 8 show multiple officers on top of Jones; one officer is seen kicking him several times.
Jones’ attorney [said] the 62-year-old client was crying for help.
In his report, Officer Antkowiak stated that Jones “…took his right hand and grabbed the officer by his throat, choking him and lifting him off the ground.”
But take a closer look at the dash camera video; it’s Antkowiak who is on top of Jones, choking him.
In his official report, Officer Antkowiak also claimed that Jones “kicked him in the testicles and groin area, while still choking him.”
But that never happens on video.
Jones’ attorney says on the second dash camera video, the officer is asked to turn off the camera. Then the officers said they found a crack pipe and claimed Jones was intoxicated.
The city awarded Jones the $1.1 million settlement in late March. On the strength of the video evidence, which came to light in 2011, the DA dropped all charges against Jones. Antkowiak resigned in disgrace, but no other officers were disciplined. According to WFAA, police chief David Brown said the city agreed to settle with Jones only because “focus groups told them they would lose the case” in the resulting lawsuit.