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Monday, February 26, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘What the Heck Was That All About?’

DALLAS (CN) - A diesel mechanic who was making himself lunch in his kitchen says Dallas police fired a flash bomb through his back door, smashed through and "zip tied" his hands behind his back, then beat him until he was bloody and unconscious and ransacked his house - apparently by mistake, as no charges were filed after the chaos subsided.

In his federal complaint, Danny Cantu, 45, says he has never been convicted of a crime. He has a high school diploma and a degree from ITT as a diesel mechanic.

Cantu says he was making his lunch in his kitchen on the afternoon of Jan. 22, 2010 when he saw several uniformed officers run into his backyard.

Almost at once, he says, the officers fired a flash bomb through his back door.

"In matter of milliseconds after the deafening and frightening explosion, the defendant officers ... forcefully entered the home by ramming through the back door," the complaint states.

Cantu said the officers did not "knock and announce" their presence or intentions, nor give him a chance to let them into his home peacefully, or otherwise attempt to obtain his consent for them to enter.

"Upon forcefully and violently entering plaintiffs home, defendant officers ... screamed at plaintiff Danny Cantu to 'get on the ground!' Plaintiff Danny Cantu immediately complied by laying face first on the kitchen floor and spreading his arms and legs while facing the floor beneath him," the complaint states.

"Defendant officers then proceeded to 'zip tie' plaintiff Danny Cantu's hand behind his back placing him under arrest. Not satisfied with shooting bombs off in plaintiff's home, violently breaking the door down and screaming at plaintiff Danny Cantu for no reason, defendant officers then proceed to repeatedly kick and beat him, causing significant bodily injuries which rendered him unconscious and lying in a pool of his own blood."

They officers searched the home but "did not find any illegal items or contraband, despite ransacking plaintiff's home, crawling under his home and generally destroying plaintiff's personal property," Cantu says.

The complaint continues: "Plaintiff Danny Cantu was not charged with any crime in connection with the January 22, 2010 search and arrest conducted by defendant officers and/or defendants John Doe 1 through 10. Plaintiff Danny Cantu was not charged with resisting arrest, assault or any other criminal activity. Defendant officers and/or defendants John Doe 1 through 10 executed the search warrant and subjected plaintiff Danny Cantu to excessive force for unknown reasons."

It is customary for police to charge people with "resisting arrest" after beating them up. But Cantu said the police did not charge him with anything.

He says the beating caused him "permanent and severe personal injuries, including, but not limited to, a broken orbital bone and broken nose, a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, loss of vision in his left eye and loss of hearing in his left ear. Plaintiff Danny Cantu's injuries required surgical intervention and caused significant scarring and disfigurement."

Cantu and his wife seek punitive damages for trespass, false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, conspiracy to violate his constitutional rights, excessive force, and unreasonable search.

Named as defendants are the City of Dallas, nine named police officers and 10 John Does.

Cantu is represented by Craig D. Zips with Derryberry & Zips of Tyler.

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