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Posted: 7/21/2010 8:11:19 AM EDT

There is a serious amount of WTF!?!?! here, some of which is related to the obvious slant of the article.  


Deputy constable accused of beating, exposing woman at school, suit says

Grandmother targeted because of ethnicity, document says.

By Isadora Vail

Published: 8:20 p.m. Thursday, July 8, 2010

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday accused a Travis County deputy constable of beating a woman and exposing her breast in front of an elementary school with her grandchildren watching in May 2009.

Lawyers with the Texas Civil Rights Project filed the suit against Deputy Constable Richard Furrs on behalf of the woman, who used a pseudonym in the court filings. Furrs targeted the woman because she is a Mexican immigrant, according to the suit.

Misdemeanor criminal charges that Furrs filed against the woman were later dropped, the suit said. It said Furrs was suspended for five days, but the constables office would not confirm that. Gwendolyn Doyle, a manager at the office, would only say that Furrs was still employed there. Furrs could not be reached for comment.

The woman went to Sims Elementary School off Springdale Road in East Austin to pick up her grandchildren on May 21, 2009, the suit said. She pulled into the school's driveway, where Furrs was directing traffic, the suit said. It said Furrs began to show the woman where to wait, and as she did, he began yelling at her.

The woman thought he was asking for identification, so she reached for her license, the suit said. Furrs then dragged her out of her truck, the suit said.

The lawsuit contained three sworn affidavits by witnesses. One was from Lorena Sanchez, who said she was walking with her daughter from the school to their car and saw Furrs yelling at the woman.

Sanchez said she knew the woman and saw Furrs yank her from her truck so forcibly that Sanchez was able to see the woman's feet.

She said she saw Furrs beat the woman with his baton and dragged her on the hot pavement, while the woman was yelling in Spanish that she did not know what she did wrong.

Furrs was overheard calling the woman an ethnic epithet and told her she needed to speak English because she was in America, the documents said.

Another witness said Furrs was yelling slurs at the woman while throwing her around like a rag doll.

Sanchez said a few people were trying to take video and photos of the incident, but the constable and other responding officers ordered them not to, the suit said.

Jon Saucedo, a teacher, said he saw the woman on her knees and bleeding from her lip. His statement also said one of her breasts was exposed and that she was crying.

Witnesses said the woman begged Furrs to cover her up, and he responded by saying, "I don't care. I like it."

Saucedo said he stepped forward and offered to help translate for the woman, but Furrs reached for his gun and told him to back up.

Saucedo's statement said that Furrs and his supervisor went to the principal's office to apologize for the incident. Yet, when Saucedo asked Furrs why he thought it was appropriate to reach for his gun, Saucedo said Furrs became enraged and yelled at him.

"I felt very intimidated by Mr. Furrs. I thought this meeting was an effort to apologize for this officer's actions the day before, but it quickly turned into another situation where this officer was out of control," Saucedo wrote in his sworn statement.

Maria Jaramillo said her children who witnessed the incident are now traumatized and are afraid of police officers. She said when they see a police car, they try to take off their seat belts and hide.

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