Cameron Langford

The Bodies Unearthed in Texas Are Likely Those of Black Laborers

HOUSTON (CN) – A Texas school district has stumbled on the state’s post-Civil War history of leasing black prisoners to plantation owners, as its construction project turned up what archaeologists believe are the bones of prisoners-for-hire in an unmarked cemetery.

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Car Dealer in Texas Accused of Blatant Racism Against Black Customers

HOUSTON (CN) - A Houston luxury car dealer fired its top salesman for "insubordination," for defying its policy of not doing business with African-Americans, the salesman claims in court.

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Death Row Inmate Seeks Stay of Execution, Citing Oklahoma Fiasco

HOUSTON (CN) - A week away from his execution date, an inmate sued Texas, demanding disclosure of its lethal injection protocol, and citing Oklahoma's recent death chamber disaster.

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GM Depicted Father as Suicidal Murderer to Cover Up Problem that Prompted Recall, Widow Says

An outraged widow claims in court that General Motors contrived a defense that her husband "was a murderer and intended to kill himself and his children" when his Chevy Malibu veered into a pole, and that GM concealed evidence that a "vehicle malfunction" caused the wreck.
     Doris Phillips a.k.a. Doris Powledge sued General Motors for herself and the estates of her husband and their four late children, in Galveston County Court.
     "On October 18, 2005 a father and his four children were killed in a fiery one-car accident," the complaint begins. "That morning Adam Powledge was taking his children to school. As they drove along I-45 in Houston, Adam lost control of his vehicle, a 2004 Chevy Malibu, and drove onto a grassy median.
     "Unable to control the vehicle, the Malibu drove in an almost perfectly straight line until it was cut into two parts, down the middle, by a metal pole located at the center of the median. The car erupted in fire with Adam and the little children inside."
     All five occupants died in the wreck.
     Phillips sued GM in 2007 , "alleging that an electrical malfunction caused a loss of control of the vehicle."
     But GM called her theory "implausible" as no recall had been issued on the 2004 Chevy Malibu, Phillips says in the new lawsuit.
     The new complaint states: "A cornerstone of GM's legal defense to the 2007 lawsuit was a particularly nefarious accusation - that Adam Powledge was not the victim of a GM defect, but was a murderer and intended to kill himself and his children. This defense was used throughout the litigation as a means of undermining Dori's case."
     Doris Phillips is referred to as "Dori" in the complaint.
     She claims GM dragged out the litigation through its 2009 bankruptcy, then with its assets stripped, forced her and other litigants to "accept penny-on-the-dollar settlements."
     GM became a poster child for putting the bottom line before customer safety in February, when it announced it was recalling Chevrolets, Saturns and Pontiacs dating back to model year 2004 due to a defective ignition switch that can cause a dangerous sudden power loss.
     According to a class action filed against GM, it knew about the defect in 2004 but waited a decade to issue a recall, even as evidence mounted that the defect was linked to dozens of fatal car wrecks.
     GM followed up the February recall with another on March 31, affecting 1.3 million vehicles with defective power steering, including the 2004 Chevy Malibu, the car in which Phillips' husband and four children died.
     The latest recall prompted Phillips to sue GM on Tuesday, and ask the court to set aside and vacate the final judgment in her previous lawsuit.
     Phillips also wants up to $300 million in punitive damages for fraud, conspiracy, infliction of emotional distress and racketeering.
     She is represented by Joshua Davis of Houston.
     General Motors said it would not comment on the lawsuit unless it got a request on company letterhead, sent to the proper GM division, a procedure which could not be completed by press time.
     Meanwhile, the U.S. government on Wednesday released a report that it lost $11.2 billion on its bailout of GM.  

U.S. Marshal Shot Unarmed, Compliant Man In the Back, Suit Alleges

 McALLEN, Texas (CN) - A U.S. marshal shot an unarmed man in the back after raiding his home for suspicion of kidnapping, though the man's alleged victim, his girlfriend, "answered the door" and "appeared fine, with her children happily outside playing," the wounded man claims in court.

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Greyhound Security Guard Rapes Woman then - Feeling Guilty Perhaps - Returns $20 He Stole from Her

HOUSTON (CN) - A security guard forcibly raped a woman in a Houston Greyhound bus terminal after pulling her out of line and handcuffing her, the woman claims in court.

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In Texas Prisons, 14 People Have Died After Being Forced to Endure 120 Degree Heat

Fourteen people have died of heat stroke in Texas prisons since 2007, needless deaths the state could prevent with a few air-conditioners, a grieving mother claims in court.

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Texas Police Repeatedly Shot and Tasered a 67-Year-Old Alzheimer's Patient - In Her Own Home

 SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - As her husband begged them to "put the gun away," Texas police repeatedly shot and Tasered a demented 67-year-old woman because she wouldn't drop a letter opener, then told the husband they had "saved his ass," the man claims.

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Worker Claims Bosses Repeatedly Tasered Him Until He Defecated and Urinated on Himself and Videotaped It, Laughing Like Depraved 'Deviants'

Managers at a car dealer repeatedly Tasered a salesman until he urinated and defecated on himself, filmed it and laughed like "depraved ... deviants," then posted the video on Facebook and YouTube, the salesman claims in court.

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Caught: 15-Year-Old Texas Female Inmate Has Video Evidence of Jailer Raping Her

A former Harris County jailer must face claims that his rape of a 15-year-old detainee was caught on videotape, a federal judge ruled.
     In a November 2012 complaint on behalf of their daughter M.S.H., Michelle and Danny Hall sued Harris County; the executive director of its juvenile probation department, Thomas Brooks; and former correctional officer Robert Robinson.
     The couple said Robinson took a special interest in M.S.H. during her two-month detainment in downtown Houston's Harris County Juvenile Justice Center.
     Robinson, then 28, was assigned to the jail's boys unit but visited M.S.H. in the girls unit up to three times a week, according to the complaint.
     "The grooming of M.S.H. began with Robinson's visits in which he gave M.S.H. food and candy," the complaint states. "His visits quickly escalated with quid pro quo requests that exchanged gifts for genital fondling and touching."
     The Halls said that the lack of rules at Harris County juvenile jail allowed Robinson to have unfettered access to their daughter.
     "On or about May 23, 2012, on the eve of M.S.H.'s transfer, Robinson's harassment culminated into the rape of a minor," the complaint states. "Robinson, aware of M.S.H.'s pending transfer, told her that he would visit her the night before she was to leave.
     "As per the usual and customary practice of the facility, Robinson was allowed to abandon his post on the 5th floor of the boys' unit and enter the girls' unit undisturbed. He was allowed to enter M.S.H.'s room, with the lights out, and rape her. Unknown to Robinson, the rape was captured on video."
     The Halls seek $2 million damages for civil rights violations, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
     Harris County moved to dismiss the civil rights claims against Brooks and Robinson as duplicative.
     The county claimed that the state-law claims against Robinson and Brooks also fail since the Texas Tort Claims Act mandates dismissal of employees from a suit when claims are brought against both a governmental entity and its workers.
     Though U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein Jr. agreed as to the claims against Brooks, the judge found that the Halls had sued Robinson in his individual capacity.
     Any claims against the officer in his official capacity must otherwise be dismissed, according to the ruling.
     "Plaintiffs assert that the Section 1983 claims against Robinson are brought in his individual capacity," Werlein wrote. "As Section 1983 does not preclude a plaintiff from bringing an action against a governmental official in his individual capacity, these claims survive."
     In a footnote, Werlein noted a claim from the first amended complaint that Robinson has confessed to the rape and is on out on bail awaiting trial on sexual assault charges.
     The claims against Brooks failed since they were brought against him in his official capacity, according to the ruling. 

Texas School Ignored Coerced Classroom Oral Sex with Teacher, Girl Says

A Texas high school teacher made a student give him oral sex in his classroom and school officials ignored what was going on, the former student claims in court.
     K.M. sued the Willis Independent School District in Federal Court. The school district is the only defendant.
     Willis is 48 miles north of Houston.
     "Bruce Kincaide ... was an assistant girls basketball coach and teacher at WHS during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years. [K.M.] was a basketball player at WHS and Mr. Kincaide was one of her coaches, but she never had Mr. Kincaide as an academic teacher," the complaint states.
     "Mr. Kincaide, during [K.M.'s] junior year, began befriending her through one or more discussions, through text messaging, phone calls, emails, etc. They had met previously through basketball at WHS, but Mr. Kincaid had not paid her any special attention prior to her junior year. During summer between [K.M.'s] junior and senior years, Mr. Kincaide became more and more aggressive in his actions towards [K.M.]: for example, he was writing suggestive communications, making physical gestures toward [K.M.] and suggesting that he 'liked 'her in a physical manner and that he was even having sexually suggestive dreams about her.
     "During this time, [K.M.] learned that Mr. Kincaide was in a sexual relationship with another student at WHS, a personal friend of [K.M.]. Plaintiff further alleges that Mr. Kincaide was making suggestive advances towards other girls in the school."
     K.M. claims Kincaide started calling her out of class to visit him in his classroom during his planning period.
     She claims says her teacher, Ms. Huffer, "knew or should have known that Mr. Kincaide did not have a class at that time and that the attention being paid to [K.M.] was inappropriate," but that the other teacher let her go anyway.
     "[K.M.] would proceed to Kincaide's room, and on the first few occasions, Mr. Kincaide would kiss and grope [K.M.]. [K.M.] did not know how to respond to the advances, and was afraid to tell anyone of the advances," the complaint states.
     "As the semester progressed, and the calls to have [K.M.] leave Ms. Huffer's class increased, Mr. Kincaide began demanding oral sex be performed by [K.M.] in Mr. Kincaide's classroom following his visual exploration of porn sites on the school's computer. Mr. Kincaide would lock the classroom door to avoid anyone walking in. [K.M.] was called out of Ms. Huffer's class and into Mr. Kincaide's room in excess of 20 times during his 'off' period."
     K.M. claims that Huffer and other school officials "turned a blind eye to what was going on" with Kincaide even as he looked at porn on school computers, showed increased attention to K.M. and other students, sent thousands of texts during school hours to K.M. and other students and "became extremely possessive of [K.M.], which included not allowing other coaches to work with her during basketball practice."
     The complaint adds: "In December 2011, another WHS female student that Mr. Kincaide was having a relationship with was out of town, and Mr. Kincaide told [K.M.] to come to his house. As her coach, [K.M.] was vulnerable to Mr. Kincaide because of his age, physical size and authority. Mr. Kincaide directed [K.M.] to put her car out of site, and proceeded to take her in the house, where he put his hands around [K.M.'s] neck and proceeded to engage in sexual intercourse with [K.M.] against her will. [K.M.] was scared and fearful to report the occurrence initially; however, another friend whom [K.M.] confided in reported the relationship and Mr. Kincaide was subsequently charged criminally; those charges are still pending in the 9th District Court, Montgomery County, Texas."
     K.M. claims that after the news broke about Kincaide's charges the school principal, Leslie Holtcamp, "attempted to badger [her] into changing her account of events."
     "WISD was apparently not even going to seek criminal charges against Mr. Kincaide, instead trying to sweep the events under the rug. However [K.M.] (with the help of her mother and local law enforcement) pursued criminal charges against Mr. Kincaide," the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
     "Admitting some level of fault in the events that occurred, WISD, following Mr. Kincaide's arrest, paid for [K.M.] to attend therapy with a counselor in Conroe, Texas, and continued to pay for said therapy through December 2012 (6 months after [K.M.] had graduated). Had WISD not realized its part and potential civil liability for what had occurred, it would not have gratuitously paid for counseling services. WISD was apparently hoping that [K.M.] would go away with some free counseling; however the damages caused by WISD far exceed a few counseling sessions." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     K.M. seeks punitive damages for civil rights and Title IX violations.

15-year-old Bandleader Shot to Death at School by Texas Police Officers

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - Brownsville police "came in guns blazing" and shot a middle-school student to death at school; he was carrying a pellet gun, his parents claim in court.
     Parents of the late Jaimie Gonzalez sued the City of Brownsville and five of its police officers in Federal Court.
     "On or about January 4, 2012, the assistant principle of Cummings Middle School notified the police that Jamie had a gun at the school," the complaint states. "Defendants arrived at the school and immediately started shooting at the door behind which Jaimie was standing. Jaimie had not fired the gun, nor had he tried to shoot anyone. The defendants did not try to calm the situation down and talk to Jaimie, who was only fifteen (15) years old; they came in guns blazing and simply shot Jaimie, killing him.
     "After killing Jaimie, it was learned that the gun he had was only a pellet gun. Furthermore, the one police report plaintiff has been able to obtain mentions nothing about Jaimie pointing the gun at another student or at the police, only that the defendants were told by Ms. Brito, the assistant principal of the school, that Jaimie had a gun and was pointing it at the front door and that she had put the school on lockdown. At that point the report gets very vague, simply saying that defendant Aguilar had to resort to the use of deadly force. It appears that, in actuality, no one, not even Jaimie, was in danger at the time of his death."
     Gonzalez's stepmother Norvela Gonzalez says she "raised Jaimie from the time he was a year old and loved him as though he was her own flesh and blood."
     That morning she was working at a warehouse 15 minutes away from the school when the warehouse secretary called her and told her to go to the office.
     "There was a police detective waiting in the office, who asked that she go with him. The only thing he told her was there was a problem at the school and there was a fight. Mrs. Gonzalez couldn't believe it because her son was a good kid and she told the secretary of the warehouse that couldn't be true. The detective probed Mrs. Gonzalez to find out what kind of child Jaimie was. Mrs. Gonzalez told him that Jaimie was a band captain, and she told the detective about a fight at the school a while back and how the principal asked why Jaimie did not stop the fight that broke out between two girls. Jaimie told the principal that he did not want to get involved because he would not be allowed in band," the complaint states.
     "Mrs. Gonzalez assumed the detective was taking her to Jaimie's school, but he did not. The detective continued past the school onto the highway. Mrs. Gonzalez remembers questioning why they were not going to the school and the detective stated that he was taking her to Jaimie. The detective took her to the hospital and she remembers someone coming out and asking her if she was Jaimie's mother. They apologized to her and the detective led her into a room. Mrs. Gonzalez remembers a man in black and a doctor and a few nurses who told her they wanted to talk to her. At that point Mrs. Gonzalez knew something was terribly wrong. Mrs. Gonzalez asked what happened and where her son was. Mrs. Gonzalez's heart sank and she sat down on the couch. The doctor told Mrs. Gonzalez that Jaimie had passed and they couldn't do anything for him. Mrs. Gonzalez asked what happened and was told that there was a shooting and that Jaimie had been killed.
     "Ms. Gonzalez asked to see her son. The detective told her she couldn't and explained that the child is fourteen (14) and that he was not in a condition to be seen. Mrs. Gonzalez truly hoped it was not her son because Jaimie was fifteen (15). The doctor told Mrs. Gonzalez she could see her son and he proceeded to a hallway and into a room with a dead body. Mrs. Gonzalez confirmed that the body was Jaimie. No other family member had been contacted. Mrs. Gonzalez was told there was only one shot with entry from his arm and exit at his head, but the doctor confirmed that Jaimie was shot three (3) times and lost a lot of blood. One of the defendants told Mrs. Gonzalez to take Jaimie to Mexico to bury him there like all the rest of the Mexicans."
     Gonzalez says the police then tried to hurry her out of the room, saying she needed to go with them and sign a statement, but she refused and asked them to call her husband.
     "Mrs. Gonzalez remembers the defendants asking that Jaimie be taken away and saying that his father, Mr. Gonzalez, could not see Jaimie," the complaint states. "Later on, one of the defendants told Mrs. Gonzalez that supposedly there was a shooting because her son was carrying a gun. The defendants also told Mrs. Gonzalez that Jaimie was harassing other children at the school. Jaimie did not own a gun nor did he have access to a gun. The school never contacted either Mr. or Mrs. Gonzalez, during the incident or after the incident, although they had been very diligent and had frequent contact with her in the past regarding school events."
     The Gonzalezes claim that when police shot their son he was "alone in the entry area and never posed an immediate threat to the safety of the individual defendants or anyone else."
     But a death report released by the Texas attorney general's office six weeks after the shooting contradicts their story, according to reports in The Brownsville Herald and the Huffington Post.
     Texas law requires police to file a report with the attorney general's office within 30 days after a person dies in police custody.
     The report by Sgt. Albert De La Rosa states that when police first saw Jaimie Gonzalez in the school's hallway, behind its locked door, he had what looked like a Glock handgun in his waistband.
     An officer shot out the door's glass and Gonzalez retreated down the hallway. Officers approached and saw Gonzalez standing about 15 feet away from a student backed up into a corner. Gonzalez did not respond to officers' demands that he drop the gun and at some point he aimed it at his temple, and at officers.
     De La Rosa wrote that he saw Gonzalez turn toward the student and gave the order to "take him out," and officers Raul Cazares and Everardo Longoria each fired one shot.
     No police officers have been charged, The Herald reported.
     Video from the incident has not been released to the public because of a Texas attorney general's opinion that access to information involving minors is restricted, according the Herald.
     The Gonzalezes acknowledge in their lawsuit that there are discrepancies about what happened, but say the officers do not qualify for "good faith immunity" for shooting their son.
     "In the instant case, plaintiffs allege that the individual defendants are not entitled to claim 'qualified good faith immunity.' Importantly, the individual defendants never had a good faith belief in their conduct because they acted in a manner demonstrating that they were plainly incompetent and knowingly violated Jaimie's civil rights," the complaint states.
     The Gonzalezes seek funeral expenses and punitive damages for civil rights violations and assault.
     They are represented by Christopher Gale with Gale, Wilson & Sanchez of San Antonio.
     The defendant Brownsville policemen include R. Aguilar, Everardo Longoria, Raul Cazares, Officer Munoz and Officer Baker. The complaint does not have first names for all defendants. 

Texas Jailers Ran a 'Rape Camp' Behind Bars, Women Claim

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (CN) - Texas jailers ran a "rape camp" where they "repeatedly raped and humiliated female inmates," and forced them to masturbate and sodomize male guards, and one another, two women claim in court.

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Mexican Mom Murdered Days After She Begged Authorities to Keep Her Away From Violent Ex

Despite a protective order from a Texas judge and her pleas that her ex-boyfriend would kill her if she were deported, immigration officials returned a woman to Mexico and within days he strangled her to death, her family claims in court.
     Maria S. sued four unknown U.S. immigration officials in Federal Court, on behalf of the three minor sons of her late daughter, Laura S.
     An Hidalgo County Judge granted Laura an emergency order of protection against her children's father, Sergio H., in 2008, after he assaulted her with a knife, the children's grandmother says in the complaint.
     "Enraged, Sergio H. later returned to Reynosa, Mexico, where he reportedly worked with a notorious drug cartel," the complaint states. "On June 8, 2009, Laura S. was enjoying an evening with her cousin and two friends. They were stopped near Pharr, Texas by a local Department of Public Safety ('DPS') officer at approximately midnight for a minor alleged driving infraction.
     "The DPS officer then demanded their immigration papers, which only Laura's cousin was able to produce. Laura S. began to weep, begging the officer to let her go. She explained that her ex-boyfriend was in Mexico with a drug cartel, was extremely violent towards her, and had threatened her life. She also said that she had obtained protective orders against Sergio H., and that he would kill her as soon as she appeared in Mexico. She further stated that she had three small children and that one was scheduled for surgery."
     But the state trooper turned her over to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, who took them to the immigrant processing center in Harlingen.
     On the way Laura S. tearfully pleaded with defendant ICE Officer Doe, to no avail, that she had three small children and her ex would kill her if she returned to Mexico.
     "When the group arrived in the Harlingen immigration center, they were taken to a small office for fingerprinting and paperwork. The defendants 'Mark Moe,' 'Robert Roe,' and 'James Loe' then entered the room as well. All were agents of Homeland Security, U.S. CBP and/or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ('ICE'). John Doe remained in the room with them and assisted with the processing," the complaint states.
     "Laura S. was weeping and trembling and spoke with the defendants. Once again she explained that her ex boyfriend was in Mexico with a notorious drug cartel, was extremely violent towards her, and had threatened her life," the complaint states. "She also told them that she had obtained protective orders against Sergio H. and that he would kill her as soon as she appeared in Mexico. She repeated that the had three small children and that one was scheduled for surgery.
     "None of the defendants asked her any questions or attempted to verify or evaluate her risk of harm in any way.
     "None of the defendants explained any of her legal rights to her, such as her right to an attorney, or her right to a hearing before an immigration judge to present the various grounds for relief available to her.
     "Laura S. was in fact eligible for many forms of relief from removal, including but not limited to the following: withholding of removal, political asylum, a U-visa, and/or deferral in order to avoid the risk of serious harm, including torture and cruel and degrading treatment."
     Rather than give her a hearing before an immigration judge, the agents decided to "immediately remove Laura S. to Mexico," the complaint states.
     John Doe drove Laura to the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, her mother says.
     "Laura S. wept and begged John Doe not to send her to Mexico all the way to the bridge. Laura S. was forced to cross the bridge into Mexico in the early hours of June 9, 2009. ...
     "Within days, Sergio H. learned of Laura S.'s return to Mexico. He promptly accosted and beat her, biting her ear until it bled profusely.
     "On June 14, 2009 Sergio H. forcibly abducted Laura S. and took her to a hotel, where he brutally murdered her and left her body in a burning car.
     "Maria S., the mother of Laura S., gave her testimony to the Mexican police. Although Sergio H. was imprisoned in Mexico, he later escaped. But for the defendants' wrongful and arbitrary decision to forcibly return Laura S. to Mexico without permitting her to obtain an attorney to present her grounds for relief to an immigration judge, she would not have been battered and murdered by Sergio H.
     "The defendants' acts and omissions in this case shock the conscience."
     The family seeks damages for civil rights and due process violations.
     They are represented by Jennifer Harbury with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid in Weslaco.

Texas Police Forced Man to Set Up Drug Deal So They Could Take a Kilo of Coke for Themselves

South Texas lawmen ransacked an elderly couple's home looking for drugs, and finding none, forced the husband to set up a cocaine dealer and took a kilo for themselves, the couple claim in court.

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Texas Sheriff Threw Latino Men in Jail for 39 Days -- No Charges, No Hearing, No Probable Cause

   WACO, Texas (CN) - A Texas sheriff threw two Latino men into jail for 39 days "with no charges, no hearing, and no probable cause" and seized the $14,000 they had saved up to buy a new car, the men claim in Federal Court.
     Roberto Moreno-Gutierrez and Jaime Moreno-Gutierrez sued Hill County, the Hill County Sheriff's Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety, in Federal Court. Hill County, whose seat is Hillsboro, is between Waco and Dallas.
     "On March 31, 2011, plaintiffs Roberto Moreno-Gutierrez and Jaime Moreno-Gutierrez left their home in Killeen, Texas and were traveling to a car dealership in Plano, Texas to purchase a vehicle, specifically a 2007 Nissan Maxima Hybrid Electric Vehicle," the complaint states.
     "Defendant Jaime Moreno-Gutierrez, having sold a prior vehicle, a 2004 GMC Envoy, for nine thousand and no/100ths ($9,000.00) dollars, part cash and part check and combining his money with a loan of four thousand and no/100ths ($4,000.00) dollars, had gathered together over fourteen thousand and no/100ths ($14,000.00) dollars in cash and checks for the purchase, which is confirmed by Hill County Jail property receipts."
     The men claim Texas State Trooper Carl R. Clary pulled them over, driving a K-9 unit.
     "The trooper provided no traffic violation information or reason for the stop to the plaintiffs," the complaint states. "The trooper requested driver licenses from both plaintiffs, which he then took to his patrol unit. Upon returning, he requested to search the vehicle. Consent was given, and he then brought out his dog. After a search, the dog was put in its kennel. No drugs or drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle or on the plaintiffs.
     "The officer used a translator apparatus to translate his questions but did not translate the Spanish responses into English. He inquired as to the money, and plaintiffs explained where it came from and why they had legal possession.
     "There was simply no indication of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, Trooper Clary seized the money and waited for backup. After 20 minutes, the plaintiffs were taken to another squad car and were told they were going to be interviewed where it was quiet. Even though there was no sign from the K-9 and, therefore, no probable cause, the arriving officers tore apart the vehicle looking for money or drugs that did not exist.
     "At the Hill County Sheriff Department, the plaintiffs were never handcuffed, never Mirandized and never told they were under arrest; rather, they were asked where they were from. The money was counted, and they were then booked into Hill County Jail for what jail documents call pending charges pursuant to 'money laundering.'"
     So began their odyssey in Hill County Jail: an ordeal with a scant paper trail.
     "The Texas Department of Public Safety Officer never filed a Probable Cause Affidavit," the complaint states. "There was no warrant; there is no record of the plaintiffs being brought before a magistrate; there is no record of a bond hearing; and no bond was ever set by Hill County authorities, all of which has been was confirmed by FOIA requests and USDOJ FBI CJISD Reports."
     The plaintiffs say their families scraped together money to pay for their defense, and retained Peek & Toland on April 6, 2011.
     "Between April 6, 2011 and April 12, 2011, counsel made several calls to the Hill County Sheriff Department/Jail and was told they had no information and to call DPS Officer Clary or the district attorney," the complaint states.
     "On April 12, 2011, counsel sent a request to the Waco, Texas office of the Texas Department of Public Safety for contact information on the detective assigned to the case for copies of the probable cause affidavit and arrest warrant or offense report. None was provided.
     "There was no cause number, offense report, warrant, or probable cause affidavit, defense counsel for plaintiffs had no reference for their requests for bond or bond hearing.
     "Between April 12, 2011 and April 25, 2011, counsel, in a series of calls and visits, pointed out to the jailers there were no charges; no offense report; no probable cause affidavit on file; and plaintiffs were being held more than 72 hours in violation of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Section 17.033(b).
     "Counsel was told to contact the arresting officer or the office of district attorney. On another occasion, counsel was told there was an 'ICE hold detainer.' The 48 hours passed and plaintiffs were not released. The FOIA request reveals no ICE hold detention (Form I-247) notice during this time." (Parentheses in complaint.)
     After the plaintiff's attorney sent a letter to State Trooper Clary asking for information about their charges and did not get a response, he filed a motion with the Hill County DA's office for an examining trial, and another motion with Hill County's district clerk, seeking information and/or a case number.
     Again there was no response, plaintiffs say.
     "On May 9, 2011, (the first time immigration documents showed up in the FOIA file), ICE sends an immigration warrant, at which time immigration officials were told no charges were going to be pursued and an immigration bond was set and paid," the complaint states. "Plaintiffs were released after 39 plus days of incarceration with no charges; no hearing; and no probable cause, all in violation of state and federal laws and constitutional requirements.
     "All authority to continue detention under the immigration detainer or state law had expired 36 days earlier. It was defendants' legal duty to immediately release plaintiffs.
     "Nevertheless, defendants continued to imprison plaintiffs, without legal authority, for approximately 39 days.
     "During this 39-day detention, both plaintiffs, their counsel and plaintiffs' family members protested to HCDF employees that they were entitled to release. HCDF employees responded by stating that they would remain in custody under the federal immigration laws.
     "Plaintiffs had no opportunity to appear before a judge to seek release or to learn the reason they were deprived of his liberty. Plaintiffs had no opportunity to post bond."
     The plaintiffs seek damages for civil rights violations, false imprisonment, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent supervision, training and retention.
     They are represented by Cary Toland of Brownsville.
     Trooper Clary is not a party to the complaint.

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