By Walt Nett
Two Lubbock police officers continue to face a lawsuit, claiming use of excessive force while arresting three people in July 2009, and then later, all charges were dismissed.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson of Amarillo refused to dismiss the suit against LPD officers Clinton Lewis and Jeffrey Steven Simpson, who had asked the judge’s consideration, contending they are public officials and didn’t violate clearly established law they should have known.
In her ruling, Robinson noted some missing evidence, namely audio and video recordings of the incident from the officers’ police cars.
Robert E. Campbell, Maria-Joaquina Womack and Aurora Joy Campbell-Ortega filed the suit in July 2011, saying the officers beat Campbell and used a Tasar on him repeatedly and entered his house when he asked them not to, among other things.
At the time, Campbell worked as a special deputy U.S. marshal on the federal courthouse security detail in Lubbock.
Arrests of the three resulted from an incident with two of Campbell’s female neighbors, according to court records.
Campbell-Ortega, Womack and Campbell claim the women screamed and cursed at them, then walked into Campbell’s house, uninvited, and took beer from the refrigerator.
The other woman claimed Campbell wouldn’t help her push her vehicle out of the driveway.
Womack called 911, and then Simpson and Lewis responded.
After officers arrived, the arguing continued. One of the officers noticed a red mark on the face of one of the women. She claimed Campbell had hit her with a beer can.
Campbell, a special deputy U.S. marshal on security detail at the federal courthouse in Lubbock, realized he’d left his weapon in his truck. He fetched it, sticking it in the waistband of his pants in the back because he didn’t want the officers seeing the weapon.
Court records indicate Campbell walked backward into the house to prevent the officers from seeing the weapon.
When one of the officers tried to follow the federal deputy, Campbell told him not to come into the house.
But the officers came in anyway, according to claims made by Campbell, Campbell-Ortega and Womack.
Campbell was charged with intentionally failing to conceal a handgun, carrying a loaded handgun while intoxicated, assault on a police officer and intentionally preventing an officer from making an arrest.
Womack was charged with unlawfully interfering with a police officer. Campbell-Ortega was charged with assault on a public servant, unlawfully resisting arrest and unlawfully interfering with a police officer.
The criminal charges were dropped without a trial.
But Campbell was fired from his job shortly after his arrest.
Later, his situation changed to leave without pay.
And then, after nine months, Campbell was told he would have to resign to receive his accrued vacation pay, according to the lawsuit.