Courthouse shooting suspect had sued HPD

March 15, 2012 4:15:54 PM PDT
Throughout the sexual assault investigation, the suspect in the Beaumont courthouse shooting claimed he and his family members were being railroaded by the system. He even filed suit in federal court accusing law enforcement of slander and racial profiling.

Now, we're taking a closer look at how these complaints could demonstrate a long-held frustration with the system that investigators believe led to Wednesday's deadly shooting.

The Grangers filed the lawsuit in September 2010 -- 17 months after the allegations of sexual assault against Bartholomew, Lyndon and Bartholomew Granger Sr. were first reported to the Houston Police Department.

In the suit, which the men filed acting as their own attorneys, they claimed that HPD, Harris County, Beaumont police, and Jefferson County all mistreated them, slandered them and invaded their privacy.

They alleged racial profiling and that authorities falsified evidence while violating their civil and constitutional rights.

In the lawsuit's narrative, they write, "It's like I'm guilty until proven more guilty." And they call the case against them a living nightmare that's gone on far too long. They asked for a jury trial and for $250 million in damages.

"We have a very open legal system, that filing of a lawsuit in and of itself doesn't take a whole lot except effort," Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said.

Ryan says the Granger case is what's called a pro-se case, in which the plaintiff has no attorney.

Suits like this constitute as much as 20 percent of those levied against Harris County, as many as 150 a year. Virtually none of which ever see a trial, in part because most plaintiffs with real claims find attorneys and in part because the system is complicated.

"It's a very confusing system even if you work inside it, let alone if you're somebody trying to exercise a claim that you might think is legitimate that's not legitimate. But again, it's their right to try and exercise that right," Ryan said.

The lawsuit was amended at least once to include additional defendants as it lingered in the courts for more than a year. But ultimately, in December, a federal judge dismissed the case.