2 HPD officers ordered to pay $1M in damages to man for use of excessive force in 2017 arrest

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Two Houston police officers have been found liable for using excessive force during a 2017 arrest and have been ordered to pay thousands of dollars.

A federal judge ruled former HPD officer Jacob Simmerman and Christopher Heaven, who's a current HPD officer, liable for excessive force and assault.

This stems from a controversial traffic stop in March 2017 in which Jose Gomez, now 44, was arrested for a violation.

Simmerman and Heaven have been ordered to pay more than $550,000 for assault and more than $550,000 for excessive force in damages, totaling more than $1 million all together.

Body camera video provided by Gomez's attorney shows Gomez being pulled over as an officer stands next to his car window.

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This stems from a controversial traffic stop in March 2017, in which a man was arrested for a violation.



In the video, one of officers said, "You said you don't have your wallet. Get out, turn around and put your hands behind your back."

The video is dark, and it's hard to tell what happens next. Then, you see Gomez in handcuffs and hear an officer shouting, "Stop resisting!" Gomez responds in the video saying, "I didn't do nothing."

Gomez was arrested for resisting arrest, but the charge was later dropped.

READ MORE: Man charged with resisting arrest now suing police, city of Houston for excessive force

"I asked to myself, 'How come they don't listen to what I say?' Like, don't break my arm," Gomez said shortly after the video was released. "I've got to work tomorrow. That is my wallet. Why they do that to me? They don't listen. They just take me to jail. From the jail, they take me to the hospital."

According to Gomez's attorney, he suffered torn ligaments, injured discs in his back, bruises on his face and an injured elbow.

Both officers were cleared by an HPD internal investigation.

"[Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner] and [HPD Chief Troy Finner] need to put a stop to this rampart excessive use of force in the Houston Police Department and the internal affair's stamp of approval," said civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen. "There have been over 100 shootings of civilians caught on body worn cameras which the city has refused to release for public review. Houston needs a neutral third party to review these shootings and excessive use of force."

On Tuesday afternoon, Houston city attorney Arturo Michel issued the following the statement:

"The Court previously granted a motion for summary judgment and dismissed the City of Houston from the lawsuit.

The Court found no liability, no failure to train, and no policy subjecting the City to liability in this case. The Houston Police Department Internal Affairs Division fully investigated this incident and found both officers to have acted within policy at the time and acted as reasonable prudent officers.

The testimony and evidence established that. Unfortunately, the jury disagreed. We respect the process, but the City disagrees with the verdict."


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