An attorney for a Hispanic man who was allegedly knocked to the ground and kicked by a police officer is seeking over $1 million dollars for his client, arguing that the city’s failure to teach law enforcement officers “fundamental Spanish” is the reason excessive force was used.
According to the suit filed in a Hunt County, Texas, district court on Wednesday, Jose Lopez was assaulted at a football game in 2004 by a Royse City police officer who allegedly knocked him to the ground and kicked him in the knee and face while wearing steel-toed boots.
Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia argues in his filing that the city was negligent for not monitoring and training the unnamed officer – specifically, for not training him to speak Spanish “in order to properly communicate with Spanish-speaking persons.”
Chief Tom Shelton told the Greenville Herald-Banner he was unable to discuss the specifics of the alleged incident but that the lawsuit was without merit and that he was standing behind the officer.
“There’s really not going to be much to it,” he said. “To me, it is pretty much a frivolous lawsuit.”
“I feel very confident the officer did everything he was supposed to do and he was supported by several witnesses,” Shelton added.
Garcia, a former Texas legislator, ex-mayor pro tem for the city of Dallas, and national civil rights chairman for the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization, has filed a similar suit against the city of Irving, Texas.
In that suit, Domingo charges that an Irving police officer, who was cleared of all charged associated with the pepper-spraying and baton beating of Jose Palomino, an illegal alien who refused his orders to lay on the ground, was forced to use such tactics because he could not communicate in Spanish.
The plaintiff in the suit said he had been coming to the U.S. to work for 23 years but did not understand what the officer meant when he repeatedly said, “Down! Down! Down!”
“The officer’s defense was that he wasn’t trained by the Irving police department on how to subdue a suspect without using a baton,” Garcia told KILF radio talk-show host Greg Knapp. “And second, that the only phrase he knew in Spanish was, ‘Manos aqui’.
“That’s why Mr. Palomino was subjected to the beating and the macing,” he said. “A police officer, like any public servant or anybody in the private sector, has to cater to the language of the market.”
Garcia called Knapp’s use of the term “illegal alien” in reference to his client a “racial slur,” likening it to “calling people nigger!”
The suit against Royce City is seeking $1 million in exemplary damages, $3,000 in medical expenses, $150,000 in damages for pain and suffering and $25,000 for lost wages, as well as an apology from the police officer.
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