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Saturday, February 28, 2015

More on Federal Lawsuit Against Kerrville Police Dept.

The Kerrville Daily Times published a story, buried on page A5 today (Saturday) about the federal lawsuit I filed this week against City of Kerrville and Officers Harry Holt and Ryan Cockrell. It leaves out some important facts, including that Holt wrote in his report that he struck my client in the head to "stun him." In a hearing last week in County Court at Law, he testified that he struck him in the head at least three times. When I asked him how hard he hit him, he said "I wasn't trying to kill him."

It also leaves out that my client was breaking no laws, was going into the apartment where he had every right to be, when Holt and the other officer forced their way in, tackled him, and assaulted him. Also, that out of at least three officers involved, not one's recording devices worked. Also, that Holt was warned in 2013 that another failure to activate his microphone could result in termination.

I said it about a thousand times - the majority of police officers are decent, hard working public servants. But like any profession, including the law - or especially the law - there are some bad ones. 


  1. One could imagine a Federal Jurisdiction as a necessary venue for a fair hearing of any issues involving the police in Kerr County. One local prosecutor is too close to the KPD, and has made many public statements that clearly show a bias towards police in any accusation of wrongdoing. Good job Richard!

  2. It seems like an obstruction charge against the officers is called for, if in fact they turned off their recorders before the forced entry. The reality of this happening is nil, given the current relationship between the prosecutors and police.

  3. ..."When I asked him how hard he hit him, he said "I wasn't trying to kill him."

    I would love to be a fly on the wall when you depose this fellow. He better get a good lawyer and a quick education.

  4. A federal court judge has dismissed a Kerrville man’s lawsuit against the city and police, whom he accused of violating his rights by chasing him into his residence and punching him during a 2014 arrest.
    “We’re in wholehearted agreement with the court’s conclusion,” Kerrville Police Chief David Knight said Tuesday. “It was dismissed on the merits of the case.”
    Defendants Harry Holt Jr. and Ryan Cockrell asserted qualified immunity as police officers from the litigation brought last February by Wesley Fife, 28.
    The city of Kerrville, also named in the suit, was accused of failing to properly train and supervise its officers, partly because the arrest wasn’t recorded.
    The dispute stemmed from complaints about noise and marijuana use at a Jan. 14, 2014 party at an apartment on Legion Drive, to which officers responded twice.
    The officers said Fife — then on probation for a prior marijuana offense — was seen trying to sneak out a back window on their first call there, but remained inside the party when he saw them.
    Responding to a subsequent complaint, the officers said they ordered Fife to stop when he left the party, but instead he fled into his own apartment with officers in foot pursuit.
    Cockrell reported that Holt grabbed Fife’s shirt as they entered the residence, then punched Fife in the head to subdue him.
    Fife was charged with evading arrest and resisting arrest, but court records show the misdemeanor charges were later dropped.
    The suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Antonio by attorney Richard Ellison claimed Holt “broke into plaintiff’s apartment, without a warrant or probable cause, and violently assaulted him.”
    Defense attorney Mick McKamie said the officers’ actions were “objectively reasonable,” entitling them to immunity, since Fife had refused orders to stop and resisted being handcuffed.
    The incident wasn’t recorded, he said, because Holt turned his microphone off when it vibrated, indicating it was too far from the patrol car to function or was low on batteries.
    “Plaintiff treated any injuries he may have incurred as “de minimus” when he told officer Holt that he ‘hit like a girl,’” McKamie’s motion for summary judgment said.
    U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo dismissed the case with prejudice on Nov. 9 and ordered all costs taxed against Fife, records show. Ellison couldn’t be reached for comment.
    Knight said Holt hasn’t worked at the department since last March, but declined to detail the circumstances behind his departure.