Man sues city, former Austin officers over use of excessive force

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man is suing the City of Austin and two former Austin Police officers who were fired following the use of excessive force.

Abel Soto-Torres is suing former officers Bryan Richter and Steven McCurley, claiming they kicked, stomped on, punched and stood on his head with their heavy boots outside Barton Creek Mall on July 26, 2017.

The lawsuit alleges Soto-Torres was getting out of his car and locking it when the officers grabbed him and threw him to the pavement without justification or reason.

An APD helicopter reportedly captured the entire incident on camera.

According to the lawsuit, at no point did Soto-Torres resist or fight back against the officers, yet they continued applying “excessive pressure” to his skull and elsewhere.

The lawsuit says that Soto-Torres was restrained by other officers and then Richter and McCurley went to the man’s car, smashed all windows and destroyed the interior in a search for drugs.

No drugs were found.

According to the lawsuit, Officers Richter and McCauley’s actions were done to cause the most serious of injuries to his physical body and mind.”

The lawsuit alleges Soto-Torres received various serious injuries and physical damages, including additional pain and trauma to a previously fractured eye socket and skull.

After the incident, the Austin Police Department said the officers were part of its Organized Crime Division’s planned operation to arrest Soto-Torres in relation to narcotics-related offenses.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said after reviewing footage of the operation and questioning the officers about their use of force, the department found that they lied about the force they used.

The lawsuit is also targeting the City of Austin, saying that the city was “consciously indifferent” to the actions of Richter and McCurley. According to the document, the City of Austin displayed negligent training, supervision and discipline of the officers, and cites a previous excessive force lawsuit involving Richter.

That previous case included dash camera footage showing Richter taking Breaion King to the ground during a traffic stop. According to the lawsuit and based on records obtained during the King investigation, 34 people who have interacted with Richter have faced resisting arrest charges, more than any other APD officer in the past decade.

The lawsuit claims “both officers have continuously shown violent tendencies, but APD has continually ignored” their actions.

According to Travis County online records, a warrant for Soto-Torres’ arrest was released on July 20, six days before the Barton Creek Mall arrest. Records indicate the arrest offense as assault of a family member.

According to Soto-Torres’ criminal history conviction record, he ultimately plead guilty to a lesser charge in the case and was convicted in March 2018.

KXAN has reached out to the City of Austin for comment and will update this story when we receive it.

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