Fort Worth sued on claims of unlawful arrest of pregnant woman

02/27/2014 6:20 PM

02/27/2014 6:21 PM

A Fort Worth woman has sued the city, alleging police officers assaulted her during an unlawful arrest two years ago while she was eight months pregnant, then took her to jail despite a paramedic’s recommendation that she should be evaluated by a physician.

Jessica Fields, 25, is seeking $300,000 in damages, including $12,000 for the recovery of legal costs that she spent defending herself against criminal charges of resisting arrest and interfering with public duties.

The charges, Tarrant County court records show, were dismissed by prosecutors in September in the “interest of justice.” Tarrant County District Attorney officials declined Thursday to elaborate on why the charges were dropped.

The lawsuit identifies the three Fort Worth police officers involved as S. Wong, K. Davis and S. Smith.

The lawsuit alleges that the city was negligent in employing officers “as dangerous” because they failed to supervise them and failed to properly train them in the handling of a pregnant woman. The actions of the officers, the suit says, put Fields and her then-unborn baby at risk.

The lawsuit also alleges the officers fabricated government documents and later misled the court in testimony by stating that Fields had been medically cleared by MedStar to be detained and taken to jail when she had not.

Bill Begley, a city spokesman, said that because of the pending litigation, the city had no comment Thursday.

Fort Worth police officials say Field’s allegations were investigated thoroughly by the internal affairs unit and that the officers were cleared.

“The video evidence clearly disproved the allegations,” according to an email from police. “The video evidence, along with the facts of the case, aided investigators in the review process. The officers were cleared of the allegations and the investigation was closed.”

Fields’ attorney, Bobbie Edmonds, did not return a phone message seeking comment Thursday.

The lawsuit stems from the arrest of Fields and her boyfriend, Montrell Lacy, on Feb. 27, 2012.

According to a police report, Wong and Davis had been patrolling east Fort Worth about 10:15 p.m. when they observed an Oldsmobile come out of the parking lot of a convenience store at E. Berry Street and Village Creek without any lights, “causing us to slam on our brakes to keep from hitting the vehicle.”

The report’s summary gives no other details about the officers interactions with Fields and Lacy, nor what sparked the couple’s arrest.

Fields’ account

In an affidavit written by Fields and accompanying the lawsuit, Fields said she remembers the couple passing a police car but insists that the Oldsmobile’s headlights were on.

She said she and her boyfriend, Montrell Lacy, had just arrived home in the 5100 block of E. Berry Street after picking up dinner when she noticed flashing lights behind them and heard an officer order the couple to remain in their car.

Fields said that after looking at Lacy’s identification, Wong tossed her boyfriend’s identification cards through the small opening of the car window, which was broken and could not open any further. The ID cards hit Lacy in the face before falling to the floor of the car, according to the affidavit.

Believing they were being harassed by the officers, Lacy called a community activist, Joella Sample, to tell her what was going on, Fields said. Samples advised Lacy to get the officers’ names and badge numbers, the affidavit states.

“Since the window doesn’t go down, Montrell opened the door to get his ID and insurance off the floor and to get the information Mrs. Sample instructed him to get,” Fields stated. “Officer Davis thought Montrell was trying to get out of the car and both officers begin to get aggressive. Montrell was still on the telephone with Mrs. Sample and begin [sic] saying that he was not out of the car, he was not under arrest and he was being harassed in his own driveway.”

Fields wrote that Davis then grabbed Lacy, prompting her boyfriend to pull away and ask what the officer was doing.

“You’re under arrest,” Davis allegedly answered but would give Lacy no reason why.

Field said a struggle ensued between the officers and Lacy as they tried to pull him from the car. She said Lacy was hit in the face by Wong and later kneed in the ribs by Davis. She said she had gotten out of the car to see what was going on when she was attacked.

“I was still screaming for them to stop and let him go,” she wrote. “I then noticed Officer [S.] Smith rushing towards me screaming, “Get on the ground!’ He grabbed me and started pulling and twisting my arms trying to force me to lay on the ground on my stomach.”

MedStar report

Fields, described in the lawsuit as 4-feet-11-inches tall and weighing about 120 pounds at the time of the incident, said she yelled at the officer that she was pregnant and that he was hurting her.

She said, however, that Smith and another officer forced her onto her stomach on a patrol car and handcuffed her hands behind her, cutting her finger in the process. She said she was kept in the back of a patrol car until paramedics arrived.

“I was also having contractions during this ordeal and informed the paramedic of the same,” Fields wrote. “He asked Officer Smith if I was going to the hospital and Officer Smith said no, I was going to jail.”

In a MedStar report included in the lawsuit, the paramedic noted police advised that Fields was not going to be transported to the hospital but taken to jail.

“FWPD advised of [patient’s] condition and the need for further evaluation by a [physician],” the MedStar report states. “FWPD refuses transport of [patient]. All risks explained and understood.”

Marijuana found on Lacy

The lawsuit also alleges that officers never gave Fields her Miranda Warning before taking her to jail and insulted and ridiculed her while transporting her.

“She must have thought she wasn’t going to get arrested because she was pregnant,” the lawsuits claims one of the officers told Fields.

Fields wrote that she had to stay in jail until her family could raise the money to post the $1,500 bond. Jail records show she was released from jail shortly at 1:09 p.m. Feb. 28.

Court records show that Lacy, 25, was charged with resisting arrest and possession of marijuana under two ounces after he was found to have the illegal drug on him while inside the Fort Worth jail. He pleaded guilty to both charges in October 2012 in exchange for two-years deferred adjudication probation.

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