A federal civil rights suit filed Friday raises some troubling questions about the conduct of Harris County deputies. As shown on the video below, David Braxton Scherz Jr., 26, was arrested on Sept. 10, 2011, along with his father, mother, sister and aunt in front of their Houston home. Scherz was stopped for running a stop sign and the scene quickly escalated due, it seems, to the action of the officers. A Harris County deputy constable held Scherz down and kicked him until he, Scherz, had multiple broken ribs. The police never had probable cause for any of the family arrests and all charges were later dropped. As for David Scherz, he was not charged with the traffic violation but for denting the car of the deputies. The videotape also shows a family member being arrested after an officer spots her with a camera.
When Scherz was stopped on the minor traffic violation, his mother came out of the house. Officers ordered her back inside, though she was a right to be outside as long as she is not interfering with the police. When she objected that the police have no right to be on her property, she was put into custody. A deputy identified as Jimmie Drummond (now a captain) is shown kicking David Scherz as he is lying face down on the street with his hands behind him. As other officers hold him down, he kicks Scherz repeatedly in the ribs and then in the head. An officer is also shown dropping a knee on the back of his neck.
What is most notable is that (now Captain) Drummond insists that he has no memory of stomping on anyone. He stated “I remember the incident, but I don’t remember kicking anybody on the ground. I remember kicking a dog, but not a person.” I am not sure which is worse, doing this act or not remembering it.
David’s mother, Yvonne Scherz, 57, is a petroleum engineer and was charged with misdemeanor charges of interference with the peace officer.
David’s father, 58-year-old David Braxton Scherz Sr., and his sister, 24-year-old Elizabeth Scherz were charged with felony assault. Notably, an officer is heard saying “Get her, she has a camera,” as Elizabeth stood in the driveway filming the arrest of her mother and father. Deputies took away the iPhone. This is part of a pattern of such abusive arrests of citizens who film police in public.
All of the charges against the family were dropped, which also fits a pattern. In many police abuse cases, we see witnesses and victims handed criminal charges that are later dropped. These charges can intimidate citizens and discourage them from going public with complaints.
David was not charged with the original offense but with criminal mischief for denting the hood of a deputy’s vehicle. He insists that he was trying to take shoes to his mother, who was being dragged by officers to a patrol car.
There is notably no known charge or disciplinary action that has been taken against the officers for the slew of charges or the physical actions taken on the video. It is also unclear if the officers reported the kicking and accurate facts in their post-arrest statements. It is also unclear if prosecutors saw these tapes and took no steps to look into abuse by the officers. There are a lot of questions and few answers in the case. Once again, absent the civil lawsuit, it is not clear if any action, let alone answers, would be forthcoming in the case.
Kudos: Michael Blott