Civil rights lawsuit filed against city of Leon Valley, police
Police officers 'unlawfully arrested' citizens, lawsuit claims
LEON VALLEY, Texas – A group of citizens has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Leon Valley and several members of the police department, including the police chief, claiming unlawful arrests, excessive force and confiscation of property.
According to the lawsuit, the incidents happened over three days in June, when a group of people gathered at the Leon Valley Police Department to protest what they perceived to be "unlawful arrests" and "unlawful police actions."
Here are the highlights from the three incidents, according to the lawsuit:
- Mark Brown, a plaintiff who was carrying a camera, was denied access into the municipal building.
- Cameras aren't allowed in the building due to city policy.
- Brown was "violently arrested" and "excessive force" was used by police on other people taken into custody.
- Brown was "grabbed and tazed (sic) numerous times."
- During a protest, a group hoisted a partially burned parody of an American flag.
- Numerous police officers "detained/or arrested a number of people who were merely present with no lawful basis."
- Police "confiscated property from the people who were gathered there."
- "Excessive force was used by the police unlawfully."
- Police arrested several people at police chief news conference.
- Chief Joseph Salvaggio ordered the confiscation of "any property capable of taking pictures or video."
- Salvaggio ordered criminal charges filed against the people "even though no lawful basis whatsover existed to levy these charges, and there was an absence of reasonable suspicion or probable cause."
- "Virtually all the property seized by the police has still not been returned."
The plaintiffs are seeking the following:
- Declaratory judgment that Leon Valley’s policies are unconstitutional.
- Full and fair compensatory damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
- Punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
- Reasonable attorney’s fees and the costs and disbursements of this action.
- Jury trial.
Leon Valley City Manager Kelly Kuenstler said the city has not been served with a copy of the lawsuit, but city officials have been working with the FBI, the District Attorney's Office and various law enforcement agencies to looking into the plaintiffs.
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