Judge takes note of missing evidence in LPD lawsuit - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Judge takes note of missing evidence in LPD lawsuit

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

A federal judge on Thursday refused to throw out a lawsuit against Lubbock Police Officers Clinton Lewis and Jeffery Simpson.  The officers are accused of excessive force in the July 2009 arrest of an off-duty law enforcement officer. 

Robert Campbell was a specially-deputized U.S. Marshal for court security, and he was also a retired Sheriff's Deputy. 

He was at home drinking beer when there was a disturbance with a neighbor.  Lewis and Simpson responded, talked to Campbell and others at his home. They then went to talk the neighbor.

Campbell then remembered he left his duty weapon in his vehicle so he retrieved it and put it in the waistband of his pants.  When the officers returned they wanted to see Campbell's ID so he backed into his house so as to not show the weapon.  Campbell claims that officers forced their way into his home, then saw the weapon, over-reacted and beat him as they arrested him.

The officers see it differently, instead saying that Campbell disobeyed orders and they pursued him into the home for that reason.  In the process they saw the weapon.  They say they used physical force because Campbell continued disobeying and because he resisted arrest.

Either way, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lou Robinson made a ruling that, "Campbell did not pull the weapon, brandish it, or display it in a threatening manner."

No one disputes that Campbell was bloodied up in the scuffle.  He suffered a fractured sinus bone, cuts and bruises.  Officers admit Campbell was hit in the face and shocked with a Taser.

All charges against Campbell were later dropped.

The judge said in her ruling that because the officers are asking to have the lawsuit tossed out, she must look at the facts in the "most favorable" light to Campbell.

Assuming Campbell's claims are true, the judge ruled, "... The Court concludes that the need to arrest Campbell, and the level of force allegedly used by the officers to do so, was both excessive to the need and objectively unreasonable."

But that was not the only factor for the judge.  She also ruled, "Simpson testified at his deposition that there were audio and video recordings made by the responding police vehicles' recording equipment." 

The judge continued, "Simpson testified that after he had received notice of this lawsuit, it was discovered that all of that evidence is missing. He looked for it, and could not find it."

"Plus all additional copies of the police recordings which were turned over by the Lubbock Police Department to the Lubbock County District Attorney's office for the DA's use as criminal trial evidence in the charged cases, are missing, apparently destroyed or lost," according to the ruling.

The newest court documents do not mean that Campbell wins the lawsuit. Instead, they mean that the lawsuit stays on the books as disputed facts are resolved and the lawsuit could very well be headed for a jury trial.

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