Fort Bend County case shows residents have little recourse against officer misconduct
By Greg Groogan,
MISSOURI CITY, Texas (FOX 26) - He violated not a single law but got grenaded, shot, stunned, beaten, jailed and unjustly prosecuted for offenses that could have left him a felon.
The botched and unwarranted 2011 SWAT team raid in Missouri City left Chad Chadwick financially devastated from legal expenses and living with both post-traumatic stress and permanent hearing damage.
"It just sickens me that these people can do what they are doing day after day and they have no remorse," said Chadwick. "They don't care. They use their shield to say we're here to protect you, but we may destroy your life in the process."
"It's beyond race now," said community activist Quanell X, who is helping Chadwick share his story with the media. "Police misconduct is about power, the abuse of power,"
But lingering outrage is where the quest for accountability often stops.
FOX 26 legal analyst Chris Tritico says Texas residents who suffer the consequences of misconduct by law enforcement officers and overzealous prosecution have little or no recourse because state lawmakers in Austin have granted blanket protection to both.
"Municipalities and their employees are immune from action in state civil court for most things that we would file against private individuals," said Tritico.
And prospects for justice get little better at the federal courthouse where Tritico says those who claim violation of their civil rights by police and prosecutors have to meet a very difficult burden.
"Unfortunately, where we live in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the law is that you have to prove it's the policy pattern and practice of the entire municipality to violate someone's civil rights, not just that this officer violated your civil rights," explained Tritico. "It's an almost impossible standard."
It is a threshold a U.S. District Court Judge in Houston says Chad Chadwick's case does not reach.
Chadwick has filed an appeal.
"All I really cared about was what my kids thought of me," said Chadwick.
"If you are investigating a possible suicide, there is no need to blow up two compression grenades and beat the living crud out of someone,"said Tritico. "That's where this fell off the map,"
A demonstration is scheduled on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Missouri City Police Department in support of Chad Chadwick and against misconduct by law enforcement officers.