“Austin Police Officer Julie Schroeder fatally shot 18-year-old Daniel Rocha on June 9” Austin Chronicle BY JORDAN SMITH, FRI., JUNE 17, 2005
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) — Austin police arrested a church pastor and his twin brother Tuesday, alleging they used a tree branch to beat unconscious an 11-year-old who misbehaved in Bible class.
Joshua Thompson, 22, a pastor at Capitol City Baptist Church, and his brother Caleb turned themselves in Tuesday and were released on $25,000 bond, KEYE-TV reported. They were charged with injury to a child, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, the station reported.
The alleged beating took place July 3, according to reports. The brothers thought the boy did not take his Bible verses seriously enough during a church-sponsored summer camp for Spanish-speaking students, officials said.
The alleged abuse took place at a private home, said Bobby Taylor, the child’s attorney. “They … cut a branch off a tree, made my client lay on the bed, and beat him,” Taylor said.
Court records obtained by Reuters alleged that the beating lasted for 90 minutes, broke blood vessels and caused the boy’s kidneys to fail. The brothers allowed the child to take a break in the restroom during the reported beating, documents said.
Joshua Thompson beat the child while Caleb Thompson held him down, Reuters reported, citing court records. They reportedly turned up a radio to drown out the child’s cries, the news service reported.
Afterward, the two took the boy back to his home, where Joshua Thompson told the parents the child needed further discipline, the AP reported.
After the Thompsons left, the boy’s parents discovered bruises and cuts covering his entire back, as well as bruises on his neck, buttocks and legs, AP reported. They called police and took their son to a hospital, where he remained in fair condition Tuesday, the news service said.
Capitol City Baptist does not support corporal punishment, said Jerald Finney, Joshua Thompson’s lawyer.
Austin AmericanStatesman (TX) April 25, 1997
Two Georgetown men who accused Georgetown police of violating their civil rights in 1994 won a total of $225,000 from a federal jury Thursday in Austin, according to their attorney, Bobby Taylor. Ernest Lee Perry, 54, and James Scott Clark, 43, alleged in their lawsuits that Georgetown police unfairly arrested them and that Clark was unfairly struck by an officer.
According to police reports, the two men and Georgetown officers Pat Hurley and Fred Pitcher got into an argument after Clark’s wife, Brenda, was stopped allegedly for not wearing a seat belt on Feb. 22, 1994. Perry sued the Police Department in 1994. Clark filed his lawsuit in 1996. The officers are white. Perry and the Clarks are black.
On Thursday, after a four day trial before U.S. Magistrate Alan Albright, a seven person jury found the arrest and the striking of Clark were violations of civil rights and voted unanimously to award $75,000 to Perry and $150,000 to Clark, Taylor said.
“We respect the system and the decision of the jury,” Georgetown City Manager Bob Hart said Thursday. Hart said an internal investigation following the incident concluded that the two officers had acted within the scope of their duties. Hurley remains on the force. Pitcher resigned in October to join the Williamson County sheriff’s
department, Hart said.
He said any formal action by the city, including a possible appeal, would be discussed by City Council members and the city’s attorneys at their next regular meeting, May 13.
Taylor said the amount was exactly what his clients had asked from the court. “These people have been living with this for three years, and they knethey were right,” Taylor said. “I feel good about this.” Perry said he’s relieved the lawsuit is over.
“I feel good about it in so many ways,” said Perry, who owns Perry’s Garage in Georgetown. “I hope it sends the message that the police need to do people better.
“You try to say something to them and nobody listens,” Perry said. “They treat you like a kid and you’re supposed to shut up. . . . It was like they said I was doing something really wrong, but I was only trying to keep them from hurting a friend of mine.
“I’m not really going to celebrate or anything like that,” he said. “I won something that I went up against and I’m just proud of that.”
Copyright (c) 1997 Austin AmericanStatesman
Jim Phillips AUSTIN AMERICANSTATESMAN
DATE: August 6, 1993
PUBLICATION: Austin AmericanStatesman
The City of Taylor discriminated against minorities in the enforcement of a curfew that was declared unconstitutional, a federal jury ruled Thursday. The jury found that two of three plaintiffs were discriminated against by police “by reason of race.” The plaintiffs are black.
Elizabeth Stinson, a 42 year old Austin woman who was arrested under the curfew and brought the lawsuit, said, “I had the feeling that I had been violated, and to have the court justify that, I’m pleased with the result.”
The curfew banned use of public property such as city sidewalks and streets after 11 p.m. City and community leaders indicated after the verdict that the enforcement
of the curfew ordinance against minorities was an unfortunate chapter that they wanted to leave in the past.
Bobby Taylor of Austin, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said, “This proves the city fathers and city government and city police were discriminating. I hope and
pray they will stop the discrimination in other areas. Now people are going to stand up and demand what they’re entitled to.
“None of these people were in it for the money,” Taylor said.”They wanted to show they have rights.” Taylor had argued that the city selectively enforced the curfew against
blacks who frequented a strip of nightclubs known as “the line.” An officer testified that police routinely “cleared the line” late at night. Of 79 people cited under the ordinance in 1991 and 1992, 77 were black or Hispanic. Minorities make up about 45 percent of the city’s population of about 11,000.
The Taylor City Commission repealed the curfew after the lawsuit was filed in September 1992. The commission argued that police did not discriminate but simply enforced the curfew in areas where they had a crime problem. The jury awarded Stinson $12,500, including $10,000 for being arrested under a law that the judge ruled was unconstitutional. The remaining $2,500 was awarded by the jury for the discriminatory acts of the city. The other plaintiff found to have suffered from discrimination,
Randall Massey of Taylor, received $1,000. Massey received a citation for violating the curfew. His mother, Elizabeth Massey, was the third plaintiff and said she was told several times by police to “move along.” The jury ruled that she had not been discriminated against.
Cathy Kyle, the attorney representing the city, said she was pleased the jury awarded only about half the money the plaintiffs had asked for but said she was disappointed with the decision that the city discriminated against the plaintiffs. Kyle also represents the city’s insurance carrier. Taylor, who will receive attorney’s fees from the city at a later date, said the plaintiffs “were the first people in the city of Taylor to stand up and say `enough.’ Everybody in Taylor, black and white, knows there is discrimination.
This put it in the limelight and made everybody look at it and talk about it. “What I hope will come out of it is other government entities will take a look at their own practices before they have a lawsuit,” he said.
Stinson said minorities in Taylor have felt some relief since the curfew was repealed, “knowing they can go more freely without being stopped,” but both she and Taylor said discrimination remains. Harold Taylor, pastor of the predominately black.
Arnold Garcia Jr. AUSTIN AMERICANSTATESMAN
DATE: April 25, 1990
PUBLICATION: Austin AmericanStatesman
For the first time since 1932, the jail atop the Travis County Courthouse is empty. The emptying of the old jail could signal the end of a federal suit that has dogged three different Commissioners Courts and three different sheriffs since Bobby Taylor then a young legal aid lawyer filed it in December 1972.
Sheriff Doyne Bailey said the development was made possible by the state taking 40 prisoners a week out of Travis County jails 12 more than the county’s weekly quota of 28. No prisoners have been housed in the lockup since April 6, Bailey said. But county officials have kept the history making news to themselves because circumstances could force the old jail to be occupied again, the sheriff added. The jail opened for business when the courthouse did almost 60 years ago.
The old jail was to have been closed by court order on Dec. 31, so if crowding doesn’t force prisoners back into the facility, the county will be beating the deadline by eight months. “We didn’t want to brag on it too much because we might have to go back in there. We’ve kept 100 beds in reserve. If we had to, we could move inmates in there. But, right now, it’s empty.” said Bailey, who inherited the suit from predecessors T.O. Lang and Raymond Frank. People working in the old jail have been transferred to jail facilities at Del Valle, Bailey said.
“We’re not using the old jail at this time, but it doesn’t mean that the problems are over,” said Taylor. “But we’ve come a long way. It’s a sign of the close of the lawsuit.”
The old jail was declared unconstitutional in 1974, and U.S. District Judge Jack Roberts, who has since taken senior status, ordered a series of reforms. More orders were entered in 1976 when Roberts found continuing constitutional violations. He said at the time that a majority of the problems were caused “by the facility itself.”
The latest turn in the litigation came last year, when state officials were added to the suit. Lawyers representing county commissioners, the sheriff and the plaintiffs complained that a growing backlog of felons awaiting transfer to state facilities was causing crowding and financial problems for the county jails. Because of the crowding, lawyers for county officials argued, the old jail had to remain open, despite efforts to shut it. U.S. Magistrate Stephen Capelle ordered state officials added to the suit
last year as defendants. He also ordered a gradual inmate reduction in the old jail, with the closing mandated for Dec. 31.
Last year, state prisons were being closed to new admissions periodically to comply with orders imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice to
alleviate crowding. The closings caused a felon backlog in county jails, where they waited until there was room for them in state penitentiaries.
Ironically, the suit that prompted Justice’s orders was filed by Austinite David Ruiz in 1972, the same year the Travis County suit was filed.
Taylor said he, like others who receive daily jail population reports, knew about the emptying of the old jail. If prisoners can be kept out of old jail, “the thrust of the old jail suit has been resolved,” said Taylor. Like Bailey, however, Travis County Attorney Ken Oden was cautious about declaring the jail matter finally closed. “I don’t want to get too far out” said Oden, noting that events could force the old facility to be reused. But, Oden remarked, “this may get us closer to getting out of federal court.”
Taylor was quick to caution, however, that the county’s jail problems are by no means over. Though the issue of the old jail might soon be laid to rest, “we’ve got small offshoots, and the court will continue to be involved either voluntarily or involuntarily, perhaps through other litigation.” Nonetheless, “I feel good” that the end to the 1972 suit appears to be in sight, said Taylor.
The old jail, said the sheriff, “is like an old, bad friend. And you know, it doesn’t look so unconstitutional with no prisoners in it.”