(2/5/19) The Texarkana Texas Police Department is currently investigating a use of force incident by an officer against a 17-year-old, according to a news release sent out late Monday afternoon.
On Feb. 3, a lawsuit was filed electronically in federal court, alleging the Texarkana Texas Police assaulted the 17-year-old without provocation, after showing up at an altercation at a residence in Texarkana on Jan. 27, 2019.
While the TTPD news release continuously refers to the 17-year-old as a “man,” it did not release his name.
The lawsuit, however, refers to teen as a “minor” and “juvenile,” and uses only his initials, “D.H.” throughout the 15-page lawsuit. D.H. is plaintiff in the lawsuit, though it was filed “by and through his Guardian, Miracle U. Farr,” and the Texarkana Police Department does refer to the guardian, in acknowledging that a complaint was filed by D.H.’s guardian after the incident, but calls her “the man’s guardian.”
The petition was filed by Dallas attorney Daryl Washington, and states TTPD Officer Scott Lillis, put the youth in a choke hold and” placed a mace gun to his head and discharged it at point-blank range,” striking his eye.
As a result, the suit claims D,H. suffered “fractures of the medial left orbital wall and left orbital floor with obvious entrapment,” and that D.H. “is without vision in his left eye due to damage to his optical nerve.”
The suit alleges the teen did not attempt to harm anyone or make any threatening gestures toward anyone.
The lawsuit asks for damages from the City and Lillis, both individually and as a TTPD officer, and also names Texarkana, Texas Mayor Bob Bruggeman, the Texarkana, Texas City Council, TTPD Police Chief Kevin Schutte City Manager Shirley Jaster or “Policy Makers” for failing to control officers who are known to engage in excessive force.
It accuses the policymakers of failure to implement necessary policies, as well as the “implementation of unconstitutional policies” that caused D.H.’s injuries.
The police, however, tell a different story.
They say they were dispatched after receiving multiple reports of fights in the area of Brookwood Street and Belt Road in Texarkana.
When officers arrived, they say they encountered “a group of approximately 80 people fighting in the street,” but when the crowd began dispersing, they were alerted to a man with a ball bat and a woman fighting in the alley and went to that location.
The news release claims D.H. and the woman were exchanging punches, and the “man” resisted.
Police say the 17-year-old turned toward the officer and came at him “in an apparent effort to attack the officer,” and the officer fired one shot from his JPX pepper guy in trying to control him. The officers were then able to take both into custody.”
Police said witnesses at the scene indicated that both D.H. and another man had been struck with a ball bat just before the officers arrived.
According to police, D.H. was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, “where he was treated for his injuries as a result of his involvement in the fights and the JPX deployment.”
TTPD said the investigation is being conducted because departmental policy requires all use-of-force incidents be reviewed by department administration.
They also said warrants have been issued for the arrest of D.H. for Disorderly Conduct – Fighting in Public and Resisting Arrest.
The Civil Rights lawsuit asks for costs of actual damages, that include medical costs, disfigurement, constant pain and mental anguish suffered by D.H. as a result of Officer Lillis’ actions, along with punitive/exemplary damages, when conduct is shown to be “motivated by evil motive or intent, or when it involves reckless or callous indifference to the federally-protected rights of others.
The lawsuit also asks for interest on any monies gains, court costs and attorneys’ fees.