by Sam Rolley
A Texas grandmother is suing the City of Seabrook and one of its police officers after she alleges the officer tackled her as she watered flowers in her front yard and slapped her with a fraudulent public intoxication charge.
According to a lawsuit filed in a Southern Texas District Court, Barbara Nichols was watering flowers in her front yard on May 16 when she noticed uniformed police officers headed her way — a sight that, at least for a fleeting moment, made her feel safe.
But when officer Austin Schwartz barked an order that the elderly woman failed to comply with, her false sense of security was quickly shattered.
From the lawsuit: “Seeing that the officers were walking down the street, plaintiff perceived that there was no danger to her in her own yard and continued watering her plants and flowers. Defendant Schwartz instructed plaintiff to return to her home in a rude and abusive tone and stated that there was a ‘vicious dog’ on the loose that had ‘attacked a child.’
“Observing that there was no dog in the immediate vicinity of plaintiff s home, plaintiff again perceived that there was no danger to her in her own yard and refused to return to her home.”
Nichols says that Schwartz was unhappy with her decision to remain outside after determining for herself that she was not in danger of being attacked by the dog.
“Immediately and without warning, defendant Schwartz and another large male officer tackled plaintiff, an elderly grandmother with preexisting serious health issues, to the ground, handcuffed her hands behind her back, and forced her into the back of a police car,” the complaint states.
After being taken into custody, the elderly woman spent the night in jail. During her stint behind bars, she says the officer refused to provide her with a blanket or any pain medication for the injuries she sustained when she was tackled to the ground until she agreed to allow him to book her on a bogus public intoxication charge. Because she was in her own yard when the incident occurred public intoxication is a “legal impossibility,” Nichols claims in the suit.
The woman is suing for official oppression, illegal arrest and detention, assault and battery, trespass, infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and civil rights violations to the tune of $3 million.