Family Blames Texas Police for Four Deaths

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) – Texas police threatened to arrest a man for calling them in fear of his knife-wielding neighbor, and he shot at the neighbor and killed three innocent bystanders, then hanged himself in jail, his family claims in court.
     The widow and three adult children of Sammuel Toomey sued Corpus Christi, Nueces County and 12 current and former law enforcement officers on July 31 in Federal Court.
     Toomey, 63, lived in a trailer park in the Flour Bluff neighborhood of Corpus Christi where on the morning of Sept. 14, 2014 he clashed with a neighbor, according to the lawsuit and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
     “Toomey had several altercations with one of the neighbors, who was wielding a knife and threatening Mr. Toomey’s life,” the complaint states. “On each occasion Mr. Toomey called the Corpus Christi Police Department at least five (5) times. The police came out to Mr. Toomey’s home.”
     Toomey’s family says the police threatened that if he called them again they would arrest him, so Toomey “took matters into his own hands” when the neighbor approached him that afternoon with a knife.
     “Mr. Toomey grabbed his gun and shot at the neighbor that was threatening him, hitting three innocent bystanders,” the lawsuit states. Three people died and a child was wounded, according to the Caller-Times.
     Corpus Christi police arrested Toomey, and though he was handcuffed and not resisting, they Tasered him, his family says.
     The lawsuit cites the names of two law enforcement defendants, Daniel Jimenez and Michael Smotherman. The rest are John and Jane Does.
     Corpus Christi’s police chief suspended Smotherman, who later resigned, and Jimenez resigned in lieu of being fired after an internal investigation determined they used excessive force on Toomey, the Caller-Times reported.
     A dashcam video shows Jimenez stepping on, and kneeing, Toomey’s head during the arrest, the newspaper reported in December 2014, when the chief announced the officers were being disciplined.
     According to the family’s lawsuit, some of the abuse police inflicted on Toomey wasn’t recorded.
     They claim the police took Toomey to an “undisclosed location” where Jimenez and other cops “met up and decided to beat Mr. Toomey and cause injuries to his body.”
     Police then booked Toomey into Nueces County Jail. His mugshot shows him peering out of two swollen black eyes, islands in a sea of purple road rash that covers his face.
     “When he was processed Mr. Toomey stated that he was going to kill himself to the intake clerk. The staff at the jail was informed and aware that Mr. Toomey was suicidal,” the complaint states.
     But the jailers “failed to supervise Mr. Toomey or they just didn’t care if Mr. Toomey actually followed through on his threat” and Toomey killed himself, the family says.
     Toomey was found dead in his cell with his pants around his neck, according to the Caller-Times.
     The Toomeys seek punitive damages for assault, civil rights violations, excessive force and inadequate police training.
     They are represented by Christopher Gale of Corpus Christi.
     Corpus Christi’s city attorney Miles Risley declined to comment. The Nueces County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.
     Police had booked Toomey on three counts of suspicion of capital murder for the deaths the three neighbors, and aggravated assault for wounding a 10-year-old boy during his trailer park shooting spree, the Caller-Times reported.

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