Llano PD facing federal civil rights lawsuit over 2017 arrest


LLANO, TX (KXAN) — Cory Nutt decided to yell at a man for speeding through his neighborhood. The man stopped his red Chevy truck and the two men had a discussion. 

Nutt found out then: the man he yelled at was Llano Police Officer Grant Harden. 

An hour later, Harden, his chief and two other Llano police officers showed up at Cory Nutt’s front door. Luckily, body camera video from the incident captured what happened during the more than 15-minute encounter. 

Wednesday, Nutt filed a federal lawsuit against the four former Llano Police Officers and the city. The suit alleges the officers used excessive force and unlawfully arrested him during the May 2017 encounter. The lawsuit also claims the city failed to investigate, discipline and maintain policies that would have protected the public. 

    “Harden responded with something to the effect of ‘I am the law,’ and he drove away.”

“Nutt told Harden there are several elderly tenants that walk their dogs at night and could be hurt if struck by a speeding vehicle,” the lawsuit states. “Nutt told Harden he was afraid someone could get hurt if Harden did not slow down.”

“Harden responded with something to the effect of ‘I am the law,’ and he drove away,” according to the federal filing. 

The lawsuit details allegations of abuse of power against 10 different people by former officer Harden.

Allegations include following a man home and punching him in the face and illegally searching peoples’ homes and cars. 

The body camera video from the Nutt arrest shows Nutt standing in the doorway of his home, asking why a group of Llano officers wanted him to “step out” of his home to talk to them. 

Nutt would not walk out of the house. The video shows officers threatening him with arrest and threatening to call his boss in what appears to be an attempt to get Nutt fired. The officers accused Nutt of using profanity and being drunk in public, although the video shows Nutt never left his house and wouldn’t allow the officers inside.

Nutt was working out of town for LCRA and was living in a travel trailer during his assignment.

“If you like wearing that shirt that says LCRA, I suggest you come on down here and start talking. If not, I’ve got four charges on you now—sorry—three. And I promise you, when I get off the phone with your supervisor, you will not be wearing that shirt anymore,” one of the Llano officers tells Nutt. The officers threatened Nutt’s job on three separate occasions during the encounter, the video shows. 

None of the Llano officers ever presented Nutt with an arrest warrant or a warrant to enter his home.

Eventually, Nutt stepped out of the house after Officer Aimee Shannon points a taser at him and the officers threaten him with it, “Do you want tased?” a cop asks Nutt. “She’s fixing to tase you, dude.”

“Please don’t,” Nutt told the officer while the red laser light on the end of Officer Shannon’s taser bounces between Nutt’s crotch and abdomen. 

Nutt eventually steps outside where he’s handcuffed and taken to jail. Nutt’s attorney, Austin Kaplan confirmed to KXAN the charges were later dropped. 

Along with Harden, the indictments also charged Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff, Officer Jared Latta, and Officer Aimee Shannon with abuse of power-related charges stemming from the Nutt case. 

On July 19, 2018, a jury found Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff guilty of all three counts against him in the Cory Nutt case. The chief had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

Llano County District Attorney took the case to trail six months after the indictment. 

The indictment also accused Ratliff of “intent to defraud or harm” Nutt by what was written in the final police report, detailing everything that happened in Nutt’s arrest. The jury agreed with prosecutors that Ratliff tampered with the government record by “omitting or misrepresenting facts of the arrest of Cory Nutt.” 

The jury had to decide whether the tampering charge was a felony level offense. The jury decided to convict Ratliff on a misdemeanor-level tampering charge the verdict forms from Ratliff’s trial show. 

“My attorney is working on an appeal now, so I can’t say anything just yet,” Ratliff told KXAN when contacted in August 2018. “When it’s all said and done, I have a lot to tell. There’s case law that justifies what we did,” Ratliff added. 
A judge sentenced Ratliff to six months in the county jail on each conviction, but court records show the judge suspended that sentence to 12 months’ community supervision, meaning unless Ratliff violates probation, he won’t spend any time in jail for the crimes.  

City Manager Scott Edmonson issued KXAN a statement Friday:

“The City has not been served with any lawsuit involving Cory Nutt.  However, the City was made aware of the filing of the Cory Nutt lawsuit just this morning but has not had sufficient time to review and evaluate the claims against the City.  It is the City of Llano’s policy to not comment regarding the specifics of ongoing litigation involving the City.” – Scott Edmonson, Llano city manager

Former Chief Kevin Ratliff also issued a statement through email Friday: 

“On the advice of counsel, I cannot comment, as my appeal in the underlying matter is still pending, thank you for the invitation though. Kevin. – Former Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff

Nutt’s lawsuit seeks damages for excessive force and what he alleges is the city’s failures to investigate the conduct of its police force. Neither the city nor the officers involved in this lawsuit have yet filed answers to the lawsuit with the federal court. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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