You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Jury rules in favor of Austin police in excessive force lawsuit


A jury in federal court ruled against a woman who brought forth a civil lawsuit claiming Austin police officers and Travis County jail employees used excessive force to obtain a sample of her blood following a DWI arrest in 2013.

Caroline Callaway, 26, was seeking more than $1 million to offset medical bills she incurred from separate elbow surgeries she says were the result of injuries inflicted by an officer jerking her hands while they were cuffed. She also complained of post-traumatic stress disorder and neck pain from a choke hold.

Det. Patrick Oborski, who made the arrest, and Sgt. Adam Johnson, who assisted in the blood draw, were cleared of wrongdoing. Travis County, a co-defendant, joined the officers in victory.

“We did absolutely nothing wrong that night,” Johnson said.

“I’m pleased with the fact the jury was able to see through some of the comments and the accusations that she made and to see the reality of what actually happened,” Oborski said.

“We’re thankful for what we feel is the just decision of the jurors,” said Wes Priddy, who works in jail administration for the sheriff’s department.

Callaway was denied another win after beating a DWI charge last year when her attorney argued a breakdown in the jail’s chain of custody could have resulted in a faulty blood sample.

“Juries many times return verdicts I didn’t agree with, but this was a good jury that worked hard,” her attorney, Broadus Spivey, said.

Oborski pulled over Callaway in the early morning of Feb. 4, 2013, after he saw her run two red lights heading north on Lamar Boulevard. Callaway told him she had nothing to drink, but contradicted that statement in testimony by admitting she had two beers and a shot at a Super Bowl party. Marijuana was found in her car.

Oborski testified that of the 5,000 people he’s investigated for DWI, Callaway was the most uncooperative and the most vile. She peppered him with insults, suggesting “Good (expletive) luck” when Oborski informed her he would be obtaining a warrant for a blood draw.

An additional jail staffer was called on to help hold down a restraint chair during the blood draw because Callaway was flailing violently, Oborski told the court. The arrest came on a no refusal weekend.

Attorneys for the defendants attacked the plaintiff’s motivations, noting her elbow surgeries came only after she filed the lawsuit in February 2015, and that her physical therapist said surgery would not have been needed had Callaway stuck to a recommended exercise program. The doctor who performed the surgery told the jury he could not say for sure if the injury was related to the incident.

Defense attorneys also presented evidence that Callaway’s initial PTSD diagnosis came long before her arrest that night and that she has struggled with mental illness for some time.

A psychologist who treats Callaway testified that even though the arrest brought great stress to her client, Callaway had made positive steps by attaining employment and strengthening her relationship with her parents.

“She is doing well,” said her psychologist Karen Thompson.

Callaway testified that a mask she was forced to wear for five or 10 seconds to prevent biting and spitting caused her to panic and made her feel like “I was going to die.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Texas cracks top 10 of most dangerous places to cross the street
Texas cracks top 10 of most dangerous places to cross the street

Crossing the street can seem like such a simple thing. But there was some logic behind Mom telling you to look both ways first — an average of 13 people are struck and killed by a car while walking every day, according to the fourth edition of the Dangerous by Design report.  That same report (issued by Smart Growth America’s...
AFD makes quick work of apartment complex laundry fire in North Austin
AFD makes quick work of apartment complex laundry fire in North Austin

6:50 a.m. update: Austin fire crews made quick work of a fire that broke out in an apartment complex in North Austin on Tuesday morning. Firefighters were called out to the Highland Heights apartment complex in the 800 block of Tirado Street just after 6 a.m. They arrived within a few minutes and found flames shooting out of at least one unit...
Sunny skies expected in Austin through the rest of the week
Sunny skies expected in Austin through the rest of the week

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Forecasters are expecting sunny skies in Austin through the rest of the week after storms that battered the region on Monday cleared out of the area. According to the National Weather Service, the temperature in the Austin metro area was sitting at 55 degrees at 6 a.m., and no hazardous weather conditions that could affect...
Police search for teenagers after South Austin chase, crash

Austin Police said they are searching for teenagers who ran away after a car chase and a crash Monday night in South Austin. Police said the vehicle was stolen. Police on the scene could not give an exact time and location that the incident took place, but said it took place in the area of Southridge Drive and Bannister Lane. Police have established...
Austin ISD board approves resolution in support of immigrant students
Austin ISD board approves resolution in support of immigrant students

The Austin school board Monday night unanimously approved 9-0 a resolution in support of undocumented students. The resolution includes language stating that: “all students are entitled to a public education regardless of their immigration status or the status of their parents,” “schools and classrooms are safe, welcoming and inclusive...
More Stories