AUSTIN (KXAN) — A La Mesa, California, man is suing an Austin Police Department officer for using what he says was unnecessary and excessive force, in addition to falsifying reasons for arresting him.
While only Officer Dusty Jester is named in the lawsuit, KXAN has reached out to the Austin Police Department for more information about the case.
According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 18, 2018, Michael Yeager was visiting Austin and was headed back from a University of Texas Longhorns football game at the Darrell K. Royal Stadium. While Yeager and his girlfriend were waiting at a red light to cross the I-35 frontage near Eleventh Street, several men attempted to rob them.
Several police officers, including Officer Jester, responded to the scene, according to the lawsuit.
The officers were able to handcuff and detain the suspects, but Yeager says the ordeal didn’t end there.
In the lawsuit, Yeager says that he’d been taken to the side by another officer to give his official statement. He says he was standing calmly with his hands in his pocket when Jester, “suddenly, and without any provocation” charged at him. According to the lawsuit Jester “brutally tackled” him, slammed his face into a concrete sidewalk and “violently shocked” him in the back with a taser.
“Then to cover up his excessive force,” reads the lawsuit, “Jester had Yeager arrested wholly without probable cause, causing Yeager to be arrested, charged and imprisoned.”
According to the document, Yeager suffered a concussion, separated shoulder, broken nose, fractured thumb and lacerations that required 27 stitches to close. Yeager’s Longhorns T-shirt was reportedly soaked with his own blood after the alleged assault.
The lawsuit states that while the charges were eventually dismissed, Yeager lost his job because of the arrest and continues to have trouble finding similar work.
Yeager and his attorneys say Jester had no probable cause to use force or to arrest him. He is suing for past and future lost wages, past and future physical pain/mental anguish, medical expenses, attorneys’ fees and more.
He demands a trial by jury.
The city of Austin responded with a statement, saying, “The City learned of the lawsuit brought against the APD officer through the media. We will follow our current legal process and respond as appropriate.”
The Austin Police Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, even though Yeager is only suing Jester individually, not the department.
KXAN requested body camera footage from that night, along with any formal complaints filed against Jester and his disciplinary records.
Filing a complaint against an APD officer
Anyone can file complaints about Austin police officers with the Office of Police Oversight. It can be done online, over the phone, in person or by mail.
Complainants can also remain anonymous, but then the office won’t be able to follow-up with that person about what happens.
Once a complaint specialist reviews a complaint, it’s sent to internal affairs. If necessary, the Austin Police Chief determines the outcome, which may include disciplinary action.
It can take up to six months to complete an investigation.