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