An Austin, Texas woman has filed a lawsuit in a federal court for what she calls a “SWAT-style” encounter with police. The lawsuit includes a complaint of excessive force used by Austin Police Department Officers Jimenez and Canche. These two officers have been accused of using excessive force on suspects before in prior unrelated cases.
What Actually Happened?
On the evening of July 24, 2017, plaintiff Breanna Williams was out with friends in downtown Austin. Ms. Williams and her girlfriend suddenly found themselves in the middle of a rain shower and rushed to a nearby hotel. Williams says that she intended to spend the night there with her ex-husband, daughter, and step-daughter, who were already guests at the hotel. Since Ms. Williams and her girlfriend were soaking wet, they went to a bathroom to clean up. At that point, a hotel staff member entered the restroom. Williams alleges that the employee accused them of being prostitutes and using cocaine. She vehemently denies both claims.
According to the lawsuit filed, a hotel security guard then tackled and held Williams down. Police arrived soon after, immediately handcuffing Ms. Williams and her girlfriend. They were both then brought outside to the officer’s vehicles, where Williams alleges that Officer Nathan Canche threw her into the car. Her face struck the seat belt receiver, leaving her with a gash around her eye socket requiring 60 stitches to be closed. Williams was then transported to Dell Seton Hospital by EMS to have her injuries treated. The Austin Police Officers charged Williams with public intoxication, resisting arrest, and two counts of simple assault. The plaintiff’s attorney, Brian McGiverin, says these charges were later dismissed.
A friend of Williams recorded much of the encounter on their cell phone. The plaintiff’s story is corroborated by the video, but it will be up to a jury to determine if the force was excessive in nature.
The lawsuit, filed by Attorney Brian McGiverin, seeks compensatory and punitive damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and court costs. It also asks for a trial by jury and includes a legal basis for the excessive force complaint.
The officers’ use of force was unreasonable under Fourth Amendment standards. They
arrested Ms. Williams for an alleged Class C misdemeanor, the lowest possible charge in Texas
law. She was already in handcuffs when they hurt her. She posed them no danger, and was not
resisting arrest.” – Brian McGiverin, Attorney for Plaintiff Breanna Williams
A History Of Excessive Force?
McGiverin has sued Officers Canche and Jimenez of the Austin Police Department in the past. In 2017, the attorney filed a lawsuit involving the two officers in a jaywalking case. In that incident, Canche is seen on video punching a man several times. In an email to local news station KXAN, APD Public Information Officer Anna Sabana said that the department investigated Jimenez and Canche in 2017 in regards to Williams’ complaints them. However, “Both officers were exonerated and as a result no discipline was given”.
Back in September of 2016, then APD Chief Art Acevedo handed down a 20-day suspension to Officer Vanessa Jimenez. She allegedly deployed a taser on a man who was handcuffed and sitting in a chair in a jail booking room. He had been arrested for Public Intoxication, and, according to the memo released by APD regarding the incident, Jimenez admitted that “her use of the Taser was not objectively reasonable as there were lesser means available to control the subject…”
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