Woman suing 2 Austin police officers for alleged excessive force in 2017 arrest
On June 26, 2017, Officers Nathan Canche and Vanessa Jimenez arrested Breanna Williams for public intoxication.
Author: Britny Eubank, Molly Oak
AUSTIN, Texas — A woman is suing two Austin police officers after she said they used excessive force while arresting her in June 2017.
On June 26, 2017, Austin Police Department Officers Nathan Canche and Vanessa Jimenez arrested Breanna Williams. They charged her with public intoxication, resisting arrest and two charges of simple arrest – charges that were later dismissed, according to the Austin Community Law Center, where Williams' attorney works.
The Austin Community Law Center said that during the arrest, the officers threw Williams face-first into the backseat of their patrol car. Williams was handcuffed and her face allegedly struck the seat belt receiver, causing a deep cut over her eye and injuring her eye socket.
"He pushed me very hard, and I fell in and my entire face was just cut open," Williams said. "I started screaming, crying. I couldn’t pull myself up. I had to just lay there."
Williams said she developed post-traumatic stress disorder following the incident. She also said she lost her job and lost touch with family members.
"Breanna was handcuffed when they threw her down. What they did was an unconstitutional use of force on someone being arrested, and more pointedly, it was cruel," said Brian McGiverin, Williams' attorney.
Williams previously filed a complaint with the City of Austin's Office of Police Oversight but it was rejected because it was not filed within 180 days of the incident, according to the Austin Community Law Center.
Austin PD released the following statement about the lawsuit:
"As is standard protocol, anytime Internal Affairs receives a complaint an investigation is conducted. APD conducted an investigation on both officers in 2017. Both officers were exonerated and as a result no discipline was given.”
The City of Austin also released a statement to KVUE:
"We have not yet been served with the lawsuit but we are familiar with the incident and are prepared to defend the City and the officers.”
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court and asks for a jury to assess compensatory and punitive damages against Officers Canche and Jimenez.
"Two of the officers in this case were involved, incidentally, in a previous litigation I had filed," McGiverin said. "Getting their stories straight, both in their offense report and what they told their commanders, was something they did in that case as well.”
Williams said she could hear the officers talking about what happened and said it seemed like they were trying to get their "stories straight."
"Nobody was holding them accountable at that point," McGiverin said. "And as far as I know, nobody at APD has held them accountable for any of this.”
KVUE submitted public record requests to both the city and APD regarding both officers' alleged history of use of force complaints.