GALVESTON (CN) – Four plainclothes Galveston police officers beat a 12-year-old girl in the head in her own yard, beat her with a flashlight, accused her of being a prostitute and threatened to shoot her puppy, while responding to a call about white prostitutes, the girl’s parents claim in Federal Court. The girl, an honor student, who was dressed in gym shorts and a T-shirt when the cops beat her, is black.
The girl’s mom sent her outside to flip the switch on the breaker box because the house had lost power. She was doing that when four plainclothes cops emerged from an unmarked car and ran toward the girl. One cop said, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me,” the complaint states.
The defendant officers are Justin Popovich, Sean Stewart, David Roark and Sgt. Gilbert Gomez.
The terrified girl grabbed onto a tree and shouted, “Daddy, Daddy!” The parents ran outside and saw their daughter “hysterical and holding on to the tree with one arm; two officers were striking (the girl’s) head, face and throat,” the complaint states. “The officer who was holding Plaintiff covered her mouth. The officer was ultimately identified as David Roark.”
The complaint continues: “The Officer stated that they had received a call reporting three prostitutes in the neighborhood and that drug dealing was ‘going down.’ The officer hit Plaintiff in the back of head with a flashlight, hit her neck, throat, slapped her across the face, and told her to get off the tree. … The family’s five month old puppy grabbed the officer’s leg. The officer threatened if they did not grab the dog, he would shoot it. It was ultimately learned that the dispatch call the officers were responding to reported three white females soliciting one white male and one black male drug dealers.”
The girl required medical attention for head, back and throat pain, a sprained wrist, contusions and abrasions, black eyes, double vision, loss of hearing, nausea and vomiting, blood in her ear, and bled from the nose. She has since had behavioral problems, nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three weeks later, she was arrested at school for allegedly assaulting a public servant. The complaint does not state explicitly that the girl was arrested for allegedly assaulting the cops who beat her, or for some other alleged incident. The family had to hire an attorney; a mistrial was declared on day one of her trial.
The family seeks punitive damages for constitutional violations and illegal arrest and detention. They are represented by Anthony Griffin.