United States District Court, W.D. Texas, Austin Division
SPARKS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
REMEMBERED on this day the Court reviewed the file in the
above-styled cause, and specifically Defendant City of
Austin, Texas (the City)'s Motion to Dismiss [#13],
Plaintiff Breaion King (Plaintiff)'s Response [#15] in
opposition, and the City's Reply [#16] in support. Having
considered the documents, the governing law, and the file as
a whole, the Court now enters the following opinion and
case arises out of Plaintiff s allegations she was subjected
to excessive use of force and racial discrimination by
Officer Bryan Richter of the Austin Police Department (APD)
in the course of a routine traffic stop. Plaintiff claims
Officer Richter and the City are liable to her under 42
U.S.C. § 1983 for violating her constitutional rights
and under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 for violating her federal
rights. Am. Comp. [#12] at 10.
is a black woman who weighs approximately 120 pounds and is
about five feet, five inches tall. Id. at 5, 7.
According to Plaintiff, she was driving home on 1-35 in
Austin, Texas during the early afternoon of June 15, 2015.
Id. at 4. Plaintiff admits she was driving
"slightly over the speed limit." Id. When
Plaintiff observed a police patrol car flash its overhead
lights in her rearview mirror, however, she believed the
patrol car was pursuing a vehicle that had just sped past
her. Id. Thus, Plaintiff continued driving,
eventually pulling into a restaurant parking lot.
parking, Plaintiff opened the door of her vehicle and began
to walk toward the restaurant when Officer Richter's
patrol car also pulled into the parking lot. Id. at
4-5. A white male, Officer Richter asked Plaintiff to return
to her vehicle, and Plaintiff complied. Id. After
Plaintiff returned to her vehicle, Officer Richter
approached. Id. at 5. With the driver-side door of
the car open, Plaintiff was seated in the driver's seat
with her legs outside the vehicle. Id. Plaintiff
asked Officer Richter whether he could pull her over when she
had already parked her car and stepped out, and Officer
Richter informed her that she had been speeding and requested
her driver's license. Id. Plaintiff reached
under the car seat for her driver's license. Id.
Richter asked Plaintiff to place her legs inside the vehicle.
Id. Immediately, Officer Richter again asked
Plaintiff to place her legs inside the vehicle. Id.
Plaintiff did not refuse to place her legs inside the vehicle
but was not given time to comply with the commands.
Id. Officer Richter then demanded Plaintiff step out
of the vehicle, grabbing her to pull her out of the car.
claims Officer Richter, in attempting to rip her out of the
car, slammed her "against the steering wheel, causing
the car horn to honk in short bursts and a long, sustained
burst" Id. Plaintiff pleaded for Officer
Richter to stop touching her and allow her to get out of the
car voluntarily. Id. Ignoring Plaintiffs pleas,
Officer Richter removed Plaintiff from her vehicle, slamming
her against a nearby truck and then on to the parking lot
pavement. Id. at 5-6. Officer Richter then
positioned himself on top of Plaintiff, placing his elbow
into Plaintiffs neck and attempting to handcuff her.
Id. at 6. Plaintiff requested she be allowed to
place her hands behind her back without them being forcefully
yanked, but Officer Richter simply yelled at her to put her
hands behind her back. Id. He then threatened to use
his taser and Plaintiff screamed "Oh my god, why are you
doing this to me?" Id.
Richter then brought Plaintiff to her feet but attempted move
her back to the ground by placing her in a chokehold and
repeatedly kicking her legs out from under her. Id.
Eventually, Plaintiff once again lay on the ground and
Officer Richter handcuffed her. Id. At some point,
another APD officer arrived. See Id. Although
Plaintiff was restrained and another officer was present,
Officer Richter yanked Plaintiff off the ground by the chain
of her handcuffs. Id.
officers soon arrived and asked Officer Richter for his
account of the interaction with Plaintiff. Id.
Officer Richter claimed Plaintiff had attempted to throw a
punch at him and said "no" twice when he asked her
to put her legs in the car. Id. He stated, "If
she was a guy, man, I would have just hit her and been done
with it." Id. Officer Richter then asked for
Plaintiff to be charged with resisting arrest, saying
"If they ask what she's resisting[, ] just put
arrest. If they ask specifically what she was resisting[, ]
say arrest. They won't care about that."
requested to be transported by an officer other than Officer
Richter, and she was placed Officer Spradlin's police
car. Id. at 6-7. During the ride to the police
station, the following conversation was recorded on video:
Officer Spradlin: Well let me ask you this. Why are so many
people afraid of black people?
Plaintiff: That's what I wanna figure out! Because
I'm not a bad black person.
Officer Spradlin: I can give you a really good... a really
good idea of why it might be that way.
Officer Spradlin: Violent tendencies. And I want you to ... I
want you to think about that. I'm not saying anything. .
. I'm not saying it's true. I'm not saying I can
prove it or nothing. But 99% of the time when you hear about
stuff like that, it's the black community that's
being violent. That's why a lot of the white people are
afraid, and I don't blame them. There are some guys I
look at... I, yeah... I know it's my job to deal with
them and I know it's probably going to go ugly... But
that's the way it goes. But yeah, some of them, because
of their appearance or whatnot, some of them are very
Id. at 7.
police station, Plaintiff was charged with resisting arrest.
Id. Those charges were later dismissed "in the
interest of justice." Id.
Officer Richter's History
to Plaintiff s amended complaint, Officer Richter committed
numerous excessive force violations against individuals but
had not been disciplined for those violations before
Plaintiffs arrest. Id. at 8. Plaintiff summarizes
video evidence from three different incidents but includes no
details on when the events occurred or the race of the
individuals with whom Officer Richter interacted. See
first incident, Officer Richter pulled over a male driver and
a female passenger. After the driver refused a breathalyzer
test, the situation escalated. Id. Officer Richter
placed the driver in a chokehold and forced him to the
ground. Id. Recording the incident, the female
passenger was ordered to return to her vehicle. Id.
As she was returning to the ...