1983 Lawsuit filed against City of Kemp/Police Chief and Kaufman Sheriff Deputy

The City of Kemp, Texas and it’s police chief are being sued in the Eastern District of Texas for an alleged false arrest and police brutality by Robert McCollom (Plaintiff). Kemp disbanded it’s police force in 2012 and the Kaufman Sheriff’s office was going to patrol Kemp. I am not sure when Kemp PD undisbanded (rebanded?) but apparently they are out making arrests again. The City of Kemp and the Chief of Kemp PD Jimmy Council (who was rescued last year after falling down a well in Lassie-eqsue fashion) are being sued along with a Kaufman Sheriff Deputy in a 1983 action. Let’s look at the case and learn about federal civil rights lawsuits shall we?

What’s a 1983 case?

42 USC Section 1983 allows lawsuits against state actors for constitutional violations. That is, if a state or local government official violates your constitutional rights under the “color of law” (as part of their government employment) you can sue them in federal court.

What are the issues in this lawsuit?

The Plaintiff in this case is alleging that the officer and deputy used excessive force during the arrest and investigation. Basically, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, which includes getting brutalized by law enforcement during a search or seizure (for Fourth Amendment purposes you have been seized during a traffic stop), and being subject to a false arrest and false charges.

In this case the Plaintiff says that he thrown onto the ground with his face hitting the concrete and pepper sprayed in the face. Actually, let’s take a moment to go into the factual allegations, which just like we are supposed to presume everyone innocent in criminal cases, we should do the same here. These are just allegations in a civil petition, which, like allegations in an indictment are just allegations.

Here’s a summary of the petition- 

Allegedly, the Plaintiff in this case was pulled over by the Chief of Kemp PD for speeding. The Plaintiff had allegedly (let’s do this, just say “allegedly” to yourself before each sentence in this paragraph). already pulled over into a gas station and was pumping gas when the officer pulled up. Council told the Plaintiff to “stay your ass in the car until I talk to you”. Council and the Plaintiff had a disagreement over how fast the Plaintiff was driving. At this time Council threatened to arrest the Plaintiff for reckless driving if he continued to argue with him. The two talked further, and Council threatened to arrest the Plaintiff for failure to ID. At that time Council grabbed the Plaintiff to arrest him. A Kaufman Deputy shows up and peppers sprays the Plaintiff in the face. Plaintiff is then charged with two counts of assault on a public servant (which Plaintiff claims are false) and it appears the two criminal cases case are set for trial in May. There is a video somewhere of all this, so that should make for an interesting criminal and civil trial (if it gets to that).

Here’s a copy of the actual petition if you want to read it in your spare time.

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