March 06, 2015
A federal jury has awarded $1 million in an excessive-force lawsuit to a man Austin police punched in the face and used a Taser on during a 2011 arrest on a charge that was later dismissed.
The jury late Thursday found that Austin police officer Russell Rose was fully liable for the injuries and future pain caused during Carlos Chacon’s arrest, which his attorney says caused about $5,000 in injuries. The jury granted immunity for the other officer sued, Eric Copeland.
The federal suit began trial began on Monday in front of a jury of seven. The jury delivered the verdict at about 6 p.m. after deliberating for a day and a half finding that the officers violated Chacon’s Fourth Amendment rights during his arrest in April 2011.
“I think it’s fair,” said Broadus Spivey, one of Chacon’s attorneys. “If I were on the jury I would have awarded him even more money.”
Officials said the city is evaluating its options in response to the award, which must still be approved by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks.
Chacon, 56, was bloodied and bruised during his arrest that came after Chacon had called 911 twice from a the area of a North Austin motel where he believed a man with a gun had threatened him while he was driving.
Copeland and Rose arrived and when Chacon pulled his vehicle near Rose, the officer drew his gun and pointed it at Chacon. According to court documents, Rose never identified himself as an Austin police officer and spoke to Chacon in statements laced with profanity, the documents said.
When Chacon exited his vehicle, a scuffle ensued as officers handcuffed him and put him on the ground, with Copeland punching Chacon twice in the face as he continued to struggle. Chacon continued to struggle until Rose fired a Taser at him, the documents said.
The incident was captured by a police dashboard camera.
Chacon was charged with resisting arrest, but the charge was later dismissed. Rose remains on the force and was not disciplined because of the incident, Chacon’s attorney said.