An excessive force lawsuit has been filed against Rosenberg Police Department over a brutal and unnecessarily violent incident in July 2014 — partially captured on cell phone video footage.
According to the suit, as Fox26 reported, Christine and Steven Saenz had been arguing with their daughter and retreated to their vehicle, which was parked outside the daughter’s home.
The daughter, hoping to keep the peace, called the police to her home. When Rosenberg PD arrived, the slight disturbance caused by the family dispute turned horribly brutal.
First, officers dragged Christine out of the car. According to the Saenz’ attorney, Steven, then 58-years-old, immediately exited the vehicle upon seeing this treatment of his wife, to discuss the incident with officers.
“When he came around,” said attorney Tony Wadhawan, “they see that he has a pocket knife, because, like I said, he works with his hands. He works in the farm industry, so he always has that knife on him.
“He reached out, got it, handed it over [to the officers]. As soon as he did that, one of them struck him, and they took him down to the ground.”
Though this lead-in to Rosenberg officers’ unnecessary and excessive use of force had not been recorded in video, the Saenz’ son began taping as the confrontation turned sour.
“My client was not fighting with them,” Wadhawan emphasized. “My client wasn’t doing anything of that nature. What I think was happening was we have some overzealous cops out there sometimes.”
Overzealous might be quite the understatement in this case, as video shows the relatively compliant couple repeatedly hit, beaten, and slammed to the ground.
“Punched once. Punched twice … [the officer] spreads his arms open here, and punches him again,” Wadhawan narrated from the cell phone video.
In fact, two Rosenberg officers beat Steven until his face drips with blood. As the pair of cops sit on Steven’s back, pinning him to the ground despite his compliance and cooperation, Christine — appearing in footage to be handcuffed, angry, and confused over their actions against her husband — gets up from the ground slowly.
An unidentified male officer, who had been on top of Steven, aggressively approaches Christine and, without provocation, body slams her into the grass with what looks to be one hand on her neck — knocking her unconscious. Other family members observing the incident can be heard in the video exclaiming in disbelief, “WHOA!”
Steven, now distraught over his wife being beaten, begins to rise to try to come to her aid; but as he pushes free from the female officer, the cop who’d just knocked his wife out cold returns and wrestles him to the ground.
As Wadhawan reiterated, the Saenz family complied and cooperated with officers from the beginning — and it was Rosenberg Police, not the family who’d summoned them, who unnecessarily and brutally escalated the incident.
Though a litany of charges against the Saenz family were tellingly dropped, charges for resisting arrest have not been — and the repercussions have been even worse than the physical blows delivered by cops.
According to Wadhawan, because the couple has had to repeatedly fly to Philadelphia for court appearances, both have since lost their jobs.
Equally unfortunately, because liability insurance isn’t mandatory for police officers or their departments, should their lawsuit — perhaps the only means for pursuing justice — be successful, taxpayers will undoubtedly foot the bill.
Worse, in contrast to the Saenz’ lost jobs, all the officers involved in the incident remain employed by the Rosenberg Police Department.
This case, while it seems horribly brutal, is, unfortunately, par for the course. Non-violent, innocent people are all too frequently the recipients of gang violence — doled out by those sworn to protect.