Inmate claims attack by VPD officers, sues for $12 million
BY GHENI PLATENBURG
May 18, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.
Former Victoria Police Chief Bruce Ure and five officers are being sued for $12 million by a state prison inmate who claims he was beaten in 2009 and left with broken bones.
Gerald Martinez Jr., who is in the Ramsey prison unit in Rosharon, filed the lawsuit on his own behalf in federal court in April.
Martinez, 39, said officers Hector Talamantez, Joe A. Valdez, Jeff Hobbs and Z. McDaniel all assisted in his beating, while Sgt. E. Moya and former chief Ure, who now serves as the assistant city manager for Victoria, not only assisted in the beating, but also failed to prevent it.
Martinez claims the officers violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment when they severely injured him during the May 2009 incident.
"Anyone can file a lawsuit for anything and any allegation," said Ure, who denied the claims. "I think this is clearly an example of that."
The incident began as a chase at 2:37 a.m. May 4, 2009, when Talamantez tried to stop Martinez on a traffic violation.
The pursuit lasted abut 10.5 miles through numerous streets before ending at 155 Vassaur Drive in Nursery, according to the arrest report.
Upon arrival at the house, which belonged to the plaintiff's parents, Martinez got out of his car and raised both hands above his head, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit contends it was then that the officers got out of their marked patrol cars, grabbed Martinez and slammed him into the car and then onto the ground before handcuffing him.
He also claimed he was kicked and punched.
Martinez suffered a broken right wrist and hand, as well as two injured back vertebrae, according to the lawsuit.
The arrest report, however, detailed a different account of what happened after the chase.
When the pursuit ended, Talamantez said he placed Martinez as well as his front-seat passenger, Callieannie Cano, 40, under arrest.
A check with dispatch revealed Martinez had an outstanding warrant for violation of probation, according to the arrest report.
The arrest report also said Martinez was transported by ambulance to Citizens Medical Center after complaining of back pain that resulted from being arrested.
As a result of the incident, Martinez received a written warning for failure to drive in a single lane, turning right from the wrong lane and driving without a valid driver's license.
He was arrested on charges of evading arrest/detention with a motor vehicle with a previous conviction and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He is expected to be released from prison in June 2016, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety online criminal history search.
Martinez is seeking $10 million in punitive damages and $2 million in compensatory damages.
A public records request filed with the city of Victoria showed no complaints filed by Martinez against any police officers.