Northeast Tarrant

Federal lawsuit accuses Southlake officers of excessive force

A homeowner on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Southlake police, accusing them of using excessive force during her arrest at her home on Independence Parkway in January 2014.
A homeowner on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against Southlake police, accusing them of using excessive force during her arrest at her home on Independence Parkway in January 2014.

A federal lawsuit was filed Tuesday against four Southlake police officers and a former patrol officer, accusing them of using excessive force in the arrest of a 53-year-old homeowner in January 2014.

Constance “Connie” Westfall, a Dallas attorney living in Southlake, claims in the lawsuit that she was “body-slammed” and then smothered by officers when they came to her home to investigate a report that her son and his friends had marijuana there..

The lawsuit filed in Fort Worth named Southlake officers Jose Luna, Nathaniel Anderson, Chris Melton and Thomas Roberson; and former Southlake officer Venessa Trevino.

The lawsuit, which accuses the officers of excessive force and false arrest, also names the city of Southlake.

“He never should have put his hands on her,” said Geoff Henley of Dallas, Westfall’s attorney, referring to Luna. “No one deserves this — certainly not a law-abiding taxpayer, like Connie.”

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, but Westfall, now 54, wants to recoup the cost of medical care and a past expense of $10,000 to defend herself against charges filed against her.

Henley said Tuesday that she was charged with interference of a duties of a public servant but that the charge was dismissed.

Police Chief James Brandon said Tuesday in a statement: “The Southlake Police Department has not been formerly served with the lawsuit by the plaintiff. Due to the possibility of impending litigation, we are not at liberty to discuss the allegations at this time. I will note however that this is the first time I have heard of Mrs. Westfall’s accusations.” Brandon was not chief when the incident in the lawsuit occurred.

According to the lawsuit, officers responded on the morning of Jan. 11, 2014, to the 900 block of Independence Parkway, where five teenage high school freshman boys were having a Star Wars sleepover.

“The parents are fast asleep when the police bang on their door after 2 a.m.,” Henley said Tuesday in a news release. “How the police responded was unthinkable.”

Westfall, who has served on the her homeowners association board, answered the door but left the police on the front porch to find her glasses and her son, the lawsuit says. Dressed in just a short coat and her nightgown, she returned to the porch to find police interviewing her son and another teen, the lawsuit says.

It says the officers yelled at the teens and demanded they produce some marijuana. Westfall ordered her son back in the house to get the marijuana.

As she followed her son and husband back in the house, Westfall claims, Luna grabbed her and body-slammed her to the ground. Luna and Trevino then smothered her for about five minutes, keeping her pinned to the ground, the lawsuit says.

Anderson, Melton and Roberson arrived. They are accused in the lawsuit of involvement in a false arrest.

Westfall was taken to the hospital and later jailed. The lawsuit claims she suffered a fracture, abrasions and bruises.

“It has been unending nightmare since then,” Westfall said in the news release. “I cannot shake the feeling of them crushing me on my own front porch.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr.: 817-390-7763, @mingoramirezjr

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