HUTTO, Texas (KXAN) – Former Hutto Police Officer Gregory Parris planted a fist into the side of Jeremy Rogers’ face during a May 2018 arrest. That punch cost the City of Hutto $225,000.
That does not include the legal fees it cost to defend the lawsuit that came after.
The city and Rogers agreed to settle the civil rights lawsuit on Aug. 31 – more than 28 months after Parris and Hutto Police Officer Jamie Alcocer walked up on Rogers in a neighborhood in 2018. Rogers accused Parris and Alcocer of unlawfully arresting him and working together to have him prosecuted for crimes he did not commit.
We asked Parris and Alcocer for interviews. An attorney for Parris and the city responded. Alcocer, who the city’s website shows is still employed as a crime scene officer, never responded to a request for an interview.
“Neither the City of Hutto nor Gregory Richard Parris ever expressed a desire to settle this lawsuit. Both Mr. Parris and the City have denied that they are liable to Mr. Rogers for any of his alleged claims, and the settlement signed by Mr. Rogers expressly disclaims any admission of liability by any defendant,” Archie Carl Pierce, the city’s attorney in the civil suit, wrote to KXAN.
Pierce wrote that the city’s “risk pool” paid the settlement.
The payment came from the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool, which essentially functions as a type of insurance for Texas cities when someone files a lawsuit. The league hires attorneys to defend cities in litigation such as this.
“TMLIRP was presented with an opportunity to settle, and it made a business decision to resolve the lawsuit at a cost that it calculated approached or could have exceeded the cost of defending the lawsuit through trial and any appeal. This settlement, therefore, reflects nothing more than this business decision,” Pierce wrote to KXAN in response to a request for an interview.
Although the settlement was signed on Aug. 31, Rogers’ attorney Dean Malone said he could file a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against the city and the officers this week.
Parris was indicted in May 2019 on one count of assault causing bodily injury and one count of official oppression in the Rogers arrest. Parris pleaded not guilty to the charges and is awaiting trial.
Alcocer was listed as a defendant in the federal lawsuit but was never charged with a crime.
Body camera video obtained by KXAN showed Parris and Alcocer walking through a Hutto neighborhood on May 31, 2018 following a 911 call claiming a house on Paige Bend Drive had a marijuana smell coming out of it.
Neither officer knew the address of the home but happened to see Rogers standing at the back of a truck parked in a driveway. Both officers walked up to Rogers, who was standing on private property with a beer sitting on the rear bumper. Within 30 seconds of walking up to Rogers, Officer Parris had him pressed against the truck and started searching him.
When Rogers wouldn’t hand his wallet over to Parris, the video shows Parris threatened to charge him with “public intoxication,” then the officer grabbed for Rogers’ head and arm and punched him in the face. Rogers fell against the truck’s rear bumper and trailer hitch.
Rogers suffered a closed head wound and had to have his right ear sewn up at the hospital, according to the federal lawsuit.
Although the settlement ends the civil allegations against Parris, the criminal prosecution continues. Parris had multiple appearances canceled in the past several months. His attorney, Robert McCabe told KXAN a hearing set for later this month would likely be canceled because of scheduling problems related to the pandemic.
McCabe said Parris’ trial likely would not happen until sometime in early 2021.