The Law in Texas
HOUSTON (CN) - Two Texas cops tackled an elderly grandmother as she watered plants in her front yard and arrested her on a bogus public intoxication charge, the woman claims in Federal Court.
Barbara Nichols sued the city of Seabrook and its police Officer Austin Schwartz.
Nichols says she was watering plants in her yard on May 16 when she noticed police in her driveway.
"Seeing that the officers were walking down the street, plaintiff perceived that there was no danger to her in her own yard and continued watering her plants and flowers," the complaint states. "Defendant Schwartz instructed plaintiff to return to her home in a rude and abusive tone and stated that there was a 'vicious dog' on the loose that had 'attacked a child.'
"Observing that there was no dog in the immediate vicinity of plaintiff s home, plaintiff again perceived that there was no danger to her in her own yard and refused to return to her home."
Nichols says that's when Schwartz snapped.
"Immediately and without warning, defendant Schwartz and another large male officer tackled plaintiff, an elderly grandmother with preexisting serious health issues, to the ground, handcuffed her hands behind her back, and forced her into the back of a police car."
Schwartz later told Nichols she was being arrested for public intoxication, which Nichols calls a "legal impossibility" because she was detained in her yard.
Nichols says she spent the night in jail and Schwartz denied her request for a blanket and pain medicine until she agreed to be booked by him.
When Nichols was released, she says, she headed straight to a hospital to get treatment for the injuries Schwartz caused.
She demands $3 million in damages for civil rights violations, negligent hiring, official oppression, illegal arrest and detention, assault and battery, trespass and infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Paul LaValle of Texas City.
Seabrook's police chief did not respond to a request for comment.