A lawsuit filed against the city of Sherman, Tex. alleges that a woman was beaten following a traffic stop until she was brain dead, that one officer gave orders to “tase the bitch,” and that police forced a bystander to stop filming the incident.
The lawsuit was filed this week by Linda Surratt, whose sister, Lesa Surratt, died following the incident.
On August 20, 2013, Sherman police stopped Lesa Surratt’s vehicle for failing to signal a lane change. An officer removed Surratt from the vehicle. From there, she was placed in the rear of a patrol car but without performing a search, the suit claims.
Surratt’s passenger, Monica Garza, was also placed in the patrol car.
Brian McClarin, a narcotics officer, had directed the traffic stop.
The complaint acknowledges that Surratt removed a small amount of cocaine she was concealing and began swallowing it.
One of the officers realized what was going on “and climbed in the back seat, across the body of Garza, and began striking Surratt with open fist and then his flashlight to get her to spit up the cocaine,” the suit alleges.
When the effort failed, the officer “placed the flashlight diagonally against the right side of Surratt’s neck and pushed down, chocking Surratt with the flashlight until she lost consciousness.” While on the ground, McClarin gave the order to “tase the bitch,” the suit alleges.
McClarin and two other officers began striking Surratt with their open hands and flashlights, according to the suit, which does not specify the monetary damages it seeks but does request a jury trial.
Linda Surratt is suing McClarin, four other officers, and the city of Sherman for excessive force including assault and battery. The suit alleges that when two of the officers arrived, they “began intimidated [sic] and removing witnesses from the scene,” the suit alleges.”They told a witness videotaping the encounter to put away his video phone and go home.”
Surratt lay convulsing on the ground for 20 minutes before the officers called for an EMT, the suit claims. After being taken to Texas Presbyterian Hospital, Surratt was declared brain dead. She was removed from life support on Sept. 2, and died shortly after.
An autopsy determined that Surratt died as a result of asphyxiation.
“The thing that’s really strange about this is the stonewalling that I’ve received by the city about any information,” Surratt’s attorney, Don Bailey, told The Daily Caller.
He says that the police department allegedly has video of the altercation but won’t turn it over, despite being ordered by the Texas attorney general’s office to do so.
On Oct. 15, Sherman police submitted a request to block a request made by Bailey for the police report and video from the incident.
On Dec. 19, the attorney general’s office found that the city of Sherman should release the information to Bailey.
But he says they have not.
“For some reason they still wouldn’t do it,” he told TheDC. “I don’t know what’s going on here, but it’s certainly strange.”
Sherman police referred TheDC to the Texas Rangers, a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Spokesman Tom Vinger said an investigation was completed and submitted to the Grayson County district attorney. The DA was not available for comment at press time.