Civil rights suit filed against city
A suit has been filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas, Abilene alleging civil rights abuses against the City of Sweetwater, the mayor, the city manager, the fire chief and the police chief as well as other persons named as “John Doe” in the lawsuit.
The plaintiff, Christopher Lynn Hill, by and through his consultant, former civil rights attorney James W. Myart, Jr., allege that the City of Sweetwater acted in a civil conspiracy against Hill and caused the plaintiff emotional distress, perpetrated an assault, negligence, used excessive force, falsely imprisoned Hill, held him under false arrest and filing of false reports against the plaintiff. The case alleges that Hill’s fourth, fifth and 14th rights were violated. These actions resulted in severe and permanent injury to Hill, the suit claims.
The City of Sweetwater is being sued in excess of $5 million.
Action is also being brought against the city for allegedly failing to properly train and supervise the individual defendants in the use of force and techniques used to secure a person regarding arrests that result in the use of force.
Sweetwater city officials declined comment on advice of their counsel.
According to court documents, Hill went home on March 13, 2015, after his shift at Golden Chick. Upon going outside to feed his dogs and give them water, Hill suffered a seizure. According to Hill’s statement, Hill was observed by police walking across a freeway as a jaywalker.
When Hill regained consciousness from the seizure, he said he found himself in an ambulance and handcuffed lying face down on a stretcher. Hill said a backboard was strapped to him in the ambulance with his feet tied together using a white rag.
Hill said he begged officers to remove his handcuffs and that this request was refused. He was then transported to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital for medical treatment. Upon arrival at the hospital, the backboard on which Hill was strapped was removed before entering the emergency room.
A police incident report states that on March 13, 2015, police were dispatched to a medical emergency at the 1000 block of Oak Street on the North side district of Sweetwater at 4:50 p.m.
According to the report, Officer Cory Valencia observed Hill in the front yard of the residence having a seizure. All of the medical personnel on scene had been attempting to restrain Hill as he convulsed upon the ground. Medical personnel requested an officer’s presence. An officer was already on scene attempting to place handcuffs on Hill who was resisting efforts of the ambulance crew when Valencia arrived.
According to the report, Hill had been kicking and attempting to get away while medical personnel attempted to treat him. Valencia hurried over and stood on the ankle of the subject in order to keep Hill from being able to kick the other officer or any of the medical personnel. Hill was then handcuffed and strapped to a backboard and loaded into an ambulance. Medical personnel continued to work on Hill.
Detective Sam Cunning-ham also arrived on the scene and used a common side pin to assist in holding Hill down so that medical personnel could treat him.
According to Cunning-ham, Hill eventually began to calm down and identified himself. Hill’s mother, Harriet, his sister and wife arrived on the scene. Hill was transported to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital where the handcuffs were removed. Immediately Hill began complaining that his wrists hurt. The report goes on to say that Hill’s wrists were red from the handcuffs being on tight and had been placed that way due to the struggle with Hill whose strength and efforts were far above average.
Hill contends that Valen-cia wrote a slanted report to protect a colleague and referred to the colloquial term referring to the camaraderie of police officers, “The Thin Blue Line.”
At Rolling Plains, the 32 year-old Hill — who has a clinical history of trauma — was given X-rays on both of his wrists. A wrist series was shot with three views done on each posteroanterior, oblique and lateral projection. The findings demonstrated no evidence of fractures, joint spaces were normal and soft tissue also appeared normal.
Blood and urine samples were also taken and after 2 1/2 hours, Hill was allowed to leave the hospital with his family.
Hill also states that on or about April 26, 2016, he was beaten at the Office of Magistrate Detention Center and that a video exists of the beating. Hill contends he was severely brutalized and that the City of Sweetwater by and through its employees, refused to provide adequate medical care to an obviously distressed victim. Hill asserts that the acts of seven detention guards violated his Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by holding him at the detention center.
The accusations are that the City of Sweetwater and its employees participated in a hate crime, assault, and used excessive force and abuse, violations of the Texas Penal Code and official oppression.
The City of Sweetwater has no Office of Magistrate Detention Center.
The lawsuit was filed at the United States District Court, North District of Texas in Abilene on February 13 of this year. A copy was also provided to the Sweetwater Reporter by James W. Myart Jr., acting as a consultant to Hill.
The document is not without noticeable mistakes. It contains typographical errors and misidentified certain key members involved in the suit.