Black man sues city of New Braunfels after violent arrest over ‘dirty license plate’

Lawsuit also names ex-New Braunfels police chief, officer

A Black man living in New Braunfels said he was a victim of excessive force and racial profiling in a lawsuit filed Thursday against the city, its former police chief, and the cop who pulled him over.

New Braunfels city officials released footage of the violent encounter late last year between Clarence Crawford and officer Kaleb Meyer. Meyer, along with former police chief Tom Wibert, resigned months after the incident.

Meyer pulled Crawford over on Jan. 15, 2020, as he was driving on IH-35. Crawford pulled into a TexasMedClinic parking lot less than two minutes after Meyer activated his emergency lights, his attorney said.

Meyer approaching Crawford’s car with his gun drawn, which violated the police department’s protocol.

Crawford was compliant with Meyer, placing his left hand on the steering wheel while his right hand was visibly holding his cell phone.

As Meyer continued to yell at Crawford, Crawford began shouting back at Meyer. “Please don’t shoot me, officer. Please don’t shoot me. I’m Black,” Crawford could be heard saying in the video.

Meyer forcefully pulled Crawford out of the car and ordered him to the ground. When Crawford took a knee to the ground, Meyer drove a knee into Crawford’s back and used his stun gun on him.

The violent exchange was eventually quelled when a female officer arrived on the scene and de-escalated the situation.

Crawford alleges that Meyer racially profiled him as he was driving home from work. The lawsuit notes that despite reporting a dirty license plate, Meyer was able to read the license plate to dispatchers twice while driving behind Crawford.

Crawford’s rights were violated, and he lost his job shortly after police arrested him on suspicion of fleeing from a police officer and interfering with public duties.

Those charges remained pending for nine months until a prosecutor filed a bizarre motion that faulted Crawford for being “overly dramatic” while simultaneously asking a judge to drop the charges.

Paul Vick, Crawford’s attorney, argued that police interactions with minorities in New Braunfels have been discussed in public meetings since at least January 2015. During that meeting, a council member said that “we have all the same ingredients brewing here as in Ferguson,” referring to the 2014 incident in Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer, Darren Wilson.

Besides the financial losses, Crawford suffered from mental anguish and has since been medically diagnosed with anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

New Braunfels city officials said they have not yet received a notice of the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, records showed.

While they declined to issue a new comment on the lawsuit, they referred to the comment they gave on the day they released the bodycam footage of the wrongful arrest.

“We want to make it abundantly clear that the actions of the officer in the video are not acceptable to the city of New Braunfels and not representative of the men and women of the police department of the city of New Braunfels,” Mayor Rusty Brockman previously said. “We are working with our local Martin Luther King Jr. Association, the New Bruanfels Police Officers Association and the city’s newly formed inclusion diversity, equity and awareness forum to have an open dialogue and move forward in a positive way.”

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