One of the men who were violently arrested for allegedly jaywalking downtown in a 2015 incident caught on camera has sued the Austin Police Department, accusing officers of using excessive force and targeting him because he is black.
The federal lawsuit, the second to stem from the case, was announced Thursday at a news conference on the steps of City Hall. It also alleges the Police Department tried to whitewash the incident by clearing the officers involved.
“Like any job, if I was to do that to someone I serve, I would definitely be fired,” said 25-year-old Matthew Wallace, who was one of three people forcefully arrested in the early morning hours of Nov. 6, 2015. “They’ve been exactly the opposite; they’ve been exonerated for what they’ve done.”
City of Austin spokesman David Green said the city hasn’t yet been served with this new lawsuit, which comes a year after Travis County prosecutors declined to press charges against Wallace for allegedly resisting arrest.
Officers arrested Wallace, Jeremy King and Lourdes Glen for allegedly crossing East Sixth Street at Red River Street against a “Do Not Walk” sign.
Video of the incident shows six officers arresting King and Wallace while Glen yells at the officers to stop. As three officers take Wallace to the ground and place him in handcuffs, they can be seen punching him, placing him in a headlock and striking him with their knees.
“He was accused of only jaywalking, posed no threat to (the officer’s) safety, and was neither resisting arrest nor evading arrest,” the complaint argues. The officers “used force that far exceeded what was necessary to achieve a law enforcement objective.”
King and Glen were cited for jaywalking and filed their own lawsuit in federal court against Austin police last year. Their suit alleges that officers Richard Muñoz, Brian Huckaby, Gustave Gallenkamp and Vanessa Jimenez used excessive force and racially discriminated against them. That case is ongoing.
Wallace’s lawsuit names Huckaby, Gallenkamp and Jimenez and four additional officers — Daniel McCameron, Nathan Canche, Jared Retkofsky and Michael Cowden, an Internal Affairs division officer.
“The Internal Affairs Division’s Michael Cowden ignored video evidence showing the officers and false statements and recommended the complaint be dismissed, which it was by then-Chief Art Acevedo,” the lawsuit claims.