Buda, TX — For the second time in less than a year, a police officer with the Buda Police Department is being sued for excessive force and violating the civil rights of two elderly citizens. The Free Thought Project brought you the story of 73-year-old veteran Juan Martinez, who was thrown to the ground in a Buda, TX by Officer Demerriel Young in the local Walmart for questioning his authority apparently.
This time, he’s being sued for excessive use of force against a senior citizen, in his own home.
Leonard Miguel Garcia, of Buda, was at his home when police arrived to remove his grandchildren from his home, an action which is likely to make anyone become anxious. Police officers DeMerriel Young and Kellie Metz were present and were invited into the home.
Young begins to address the situation by advising the children were being removed, apparently taken from the custody of their mother, Mr. Garcia’s step-granddaughter. A family friend, asked the question if the children could be placed into her custody since she said the courts had already approved such an arrangement. Young implied it may be a possibility in the future but for the night the children would be remanded into the care of CPS.
It was at that point in the meeting with police Mr. Garcia got up from his couch and removed his overcoat, apparently no longer needing it since the meeting moved from outdoors to indoors. Young demanded Garcia return to his couch, to which he responded, “This is my house!”
From Young’s body camera footage it’s not so easily noticed that Garcia was complying with Young’s demands, but from Metz’ body camera angle, it can clearly be seen Garcia was walking back to the couch when Young applied a forearm, driving Garcia into his couch and injuring the man. They also nearly injured one of Garcia’s grandchildren in the process.
At this point, Metz joined Young in subduing a man who was, arguably, not resisting arrest and was being fully compliant. The pair began to yell the all too often used, worn out expression, “stop resisting” to somehow imply the elderly gentleman was foolish enough to do so in light of the overwhelming police force and presence in his home.
While being manhandled, Garcia began to demand the officers leave if they didn’t have a warrant to be in his home. Metz had been threatening to taser Garcia throughout what appears to be a one-sided physical altercation, with police doing all the physical harm.
Apparently, Mr. Garcia’s squirming under the weight of two police officers was enough justification in her mind to go through with tasing Garcia. She deployed the taser, provoking the man to scream loudly as he was under intense pain. Now both officers, the police department, and the city are being sued for violating his Fourth Amendment rights.
In an exclusive interview with Garcia’s attorney, Robert Ranco, The Free Thought Project was able to discover there’s much more to the story. We asked Ranco about his client’s state of mind. He said, “What we can glean…[was] he was agitated…but that is a difficult situation that’s a far cry from being somebody about to do something violent against the police officer.” Ranco maintains that while his client was agitated with the presence of police in his home, he wasn’t “ripping his tank top off” ready to fight.
He simply stated, “If they’re going to demand entry into a home, they do (need to have a search warrant).” Ranco’s case against the officers is a federal civil rights case and he says, “The part that makes this more interesting it’s that this is the second federal lawsuit I’ve filed against him (officer Demario Young and the City of Buda police department). That fact, alone, ought to raise some red flags,” he suggested.
Indeed it is the second time Ranco has sued Young. As we stated earlier, the first incident involved Juan Martinez being thrown to the ground by Young, an action which broke four of his ribs. Ranco elaborated on the first lawsuit.
He responded to a call at the Walmart. We’re talking about a disabled man who just stepped out of his scooter. He too was agitated because it was a stressful situation. Officer young said get out of the office or I’ll put you out. Officer Young put his hands on mr. Martinez and slammed him to the ground breaking five ribs…All I know is this is the second civil rights/excessive use of force 4th amendment violation case that’s come across my desk in the last seven months involving the same officer and the same police department.
When asked if the police department reprimanded or disciplined Young in either case, Ranco responded, “To the best of my knowledge, no one involved in either incident has been disciplined or reprimanded in any way.”
As The Free Thought Project has reported continually, police officers all across the U.S. use excessive force on American citizens. Without video evidence, it’s almost always impossible to prove. Fortunately, there’s body camera footage from this case to help prove the prosecution’s contention a man’s civil rights were violated.
“I think the common thread is, in a nutshell, excessive use of force. Neither man was suspected of breaking any law or crime. They were both present and displayed some level of non-compliance…but you can’t jump from there to…(physical takedowns and excessive force),” Ranco said.
The lawyer stated there are three conditions which must be met before use of force can be used. The suspect either has to have committed a crime, been posing a threat or were attempting to flee. Ranco contends his client did not do any of those three things. “If somebody is not a threat to somebody, you can’t use that level of force…putting hands on someone without first trying to de-escalate is just wrong,” he said.
Ranco defended his client’s demands for the law to be followed. He said the simple request his client made seemed legitimate. “Show me a warrant or get out of my house seems like a reasonable demand of any police officer,” he contended.
The lawyer has some harsh criticisms for the officers’ claims his client was resisting arrest. “I think it’s falsifying a public record and charges should be brought against an officer who says ‘stop resisting’ when they’re obviously not resisting,” he charged. He then added, “Mr. Garcia was in fact on his way back to the couch when officer Young puts his forearm into the back of Mr. Garcia forcing him down to the couch.”
Addressing the similarities in the cases involving both of his clients, Martinez and Garcia, Ranco said, “There were no crimes that they themselves were suspected of having committed. There was no reason to think they were a threat to anybody. They were not fleeing the scene.
“What the officer should have done in each situation was to say, ‘I understand you’re upset, lets’ talk about it.’ When there are alternatives to using force police officers have to use those options before they go down the road of using force.”
We discussed the unspoken rule that some officers seem to live by — all individuals must comply with police officer demands — 100 percent of the time. Ranco seems to understand, saying, “What we see too often and what it brings to mind is the caricature of Eric Cartman of Southpark Respect my authority’. It’s hilarious when you’re not on the other end of that. This is the mindset that actual police officers have on the street and utilize and that’s terrifying. It’s funny in a cartoon but not in the real world.”
He added that he feels incredibly frustrated when the police simply won’t accept responsibility for their actions. The outspoken lawyer recently made headlines for offering to give up his six-figure fee for representing his client. All the authorities would have to do is simply apologize to his client. They couldn’t.
So, he doesn’t’ let up. “How hard is it just to admit you make mistakes. How do you get better if you don’t admit what you did yesterday was wrong.”
Well, Mr. Ranco, that would be a sign of weakness to police officers to admit they made a mistake. We see it in the case of Melissa Calusinski and others. They would rather send an innocent person to prison than admit they might have it all wrong.