County to pay $100K to assaulted truck driver
June 26, 2017 at 9:27 p.m.
Updated June 27, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Victoria County will pay a commercial truck driver $100,000 to settle a lawsuit he filed against the sheriff's office after accusing a sheriff's deputy of unjustly tasing him.
Monday, commissioners agreed to pay Guadalupe Perez, a commercial truck driver from Mercedes, $100,000 to settle a lawsuit against the county and sheriff's office. The county's insurance company will pay the bulk of the settlement, except for a $25,000 insurance deductible the county must pay, according to county officials.
"I think it's a reluctant 'aye' for all of us," said County Judge Ben Zeller.
The lawsuit stems from a traffic stop in October 2014, when Perez was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 59 and was pulled over by former sheriff's deputy Daniel Bettes, who arrested Perez for allegedly evading arrest. After being released from jail, Perez went to a Victoria hospital and told nurses he was assaulted.
The sheriff's office fired Bettes after the incident. Bettes, who was fired from another police department before getting hired in Victoria, later pleaded guilty to official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.
"This is absolutely, clearly (an) abuse of his authority," said Bobby Garcia, an attorney who is representing Perez. "Why he would do these sorts of things to people, it's absolutely beyond me."
Garcia said the case against the county and the sheriff's office will be dismissed after they pay the settlement. However, a lawsuit against Bettes is still in the works. Its fate will likely be decided in a jury trial, said Garcia.
"My client is looking forward to getting this thing behind him," said Garcia. "But before that happens, let's let the people of Victoria County make a profound statement to all of the people that abuse their authority."