Man Claims Cops Ran Him Over for No Reason

     HOUSTON (CN) — Houston police ran over a man who was trying to surrender, breaking his pelvis, then beat and hogtied him as he writhed in pain, the now-disabled man claims in court.
     Joseph Roberts Jr. says in his lawsuit that he got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time: The passenger seat of his friend’s car on April 16, 2014, when his friend took the flashing police lights behind him as a challenge.
     “The driver of the vehicle, despite the pleas of the plaintiff, refused to stop, evaded the [Houston Police Department] officers, and ultimately ended up crashing into a drainage ditch in a residential neighborhood,” the April 15 complaint states. “The driver of the vehicle exited the vehicle, ran from the scene, and was quickly apprehended.”
     Roberts says he got out of the car with his hands up and instinct took over. He jumped forward to avoid a Houston Police Department (HPD) cruiser speeding toward him.
     “As he avoided this vehicle, a second patrol car slammed into him, causing plaintiff to be pulled under the vehicle. The driver of the second patrol car, defendant J.P. Rodgers, then placed the vehicle in reverse and drove back over the plaintiff,” the 10-page lawsuit states.
     Roberts suffered a broken pelvis, road rash and a hematoma in his groin ruptured, he claims. A hematoma is a blood-filled growth.
     He says the officers should have called an ambulance since he committed no crime and tried to cooperate with them, but they treated him like a dangerous fugitive.
     “Despite being completely incapacitated and writhing in agony, plaintiff was beaten, hogtied, handcuffed and thrown in the back of one of the patrol cars by one or more of the HPD Officers,” according to the complaint.
     Roberts sued Houston and four of its officers in Southern Texas Federal Court, seeking punitive damages for alleged civil rights violations including excessive force, deliberate indifference and municipal liability. He also sued for assault and battery under Texas law.
     In addition, he invoked the Texas Tort Claims Act, under which a city can be found liable for its employee’s negligent driving.
     Roberts, whose injuries forced him to start using a walker, also wants the city to pay his medical bills and lost wages.
     He says the officers took him to Ben Taub Hospital, a Harris County-run facility that cares for poor patients, then removed him moments later and took him to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where they checked him in under a false name.
     “Plaintiff was not arrested, nor was any attempt made by the police officers to locate and inform his next of kin of where he was, or in what condition he was in. Plaintiff was finally able to contact his family to inform them of where he was and the severity of his condition,” the complaint states.
     Memorial Hermann “forcibly discharged” Roberts a week later, he alleges.
     As far as he knows, Roberts says, HPD didn’t discipline any of the officers involved in response to his complaint to its internal affairs division.
     He says HPD officers habitually use excessive force against inmates in the city’s jails and suspects in the field, citing cases from 2008, 2009 and 2010.
     A city spokeswoman declined comment.
     Roberts is represented by Kevin Madden in Houston.

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