Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Police in Texas

May 24, 2011
Joslynn Terrell, Angela Butler and Crystal Truitt pursue legal action in response to the 2009 death of a La Marque man reportedly at the hands of police.

GALVESTON - Joslynn Terrell, Angela Butler and Crystal Truitt pursue legal action in response to the 2009 death of a La Marque man reportedly at the hands of police.

A lawsuit filed May 16 in federal court alleges the late Jamaal R. Valentine sought medical attention for an apparent heart attack only to be met and beaten by three La Marque police officers.

It further claims one of the officers used a Taser, manufactured by Taser International Inc., on Valentine more than once despite the decedent not showing any signs of resistance.

Valentine later succumbed to his reported injuries.The city of La Marque, former police chief Richard Price, Taser International and officers Richard Garcia, Forest Gandy and Mike Keleman are defendants in the case.

Recent court documents explain that the decedent began to feel chest pains the evening of May 16, 2009, and went outside to get some air.

He thought was he was suffering a heart attack so he flagged down a passing motorist for help, they say.

The driver, Keith Pope, called 911 and subsequently remained with Valentine until emergency responders arrived.

The plaintiffs argue that Garcia, Gandy and Keleman appeared instead of paramedics.

They allegedly drew their weapons on Valentine and instructed him to put his hands behind his back, disregarding his need for medical attention, the suit says.

According to the original petition, the policemen proceeded to punch, Taser and beat the decedent with their flashlights.

Valentine was reported to have pleaded for his life to no avail.

The attacks in question left him with a "significant" gash in his scalp and labored breathing.

An ambulance finally arrived some 30 minutes after the initial call, however, 20 minutes passed before paramedics lent assistance to Valentine, the plaintiffs say.

The decedent was rushed to a hospital in Houston, but the ambulance was rerouted to Mainland Medical Center in Texas City when he went into cardiac arrest.

Valentine was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.

The suit ultimately accuses the city and Price of failing to properly and thoroughly screen and supervise the officers who allegedly assaulted the decedent.

It blames said officers for intentionally inflicting harm on him while Taser International is faulted for not placing adequate warnings on its products.

Consequently, the plaintiffs seek wrongful death, exemplary and survival damages in addition to attorney's fees.

They are represented by Sloan, Bagley, Hatcher & Perry Law Firm.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt. Case No. 3:11-cv-00229

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