Hill Law Firm

HPD Uses Excessive Force on Suspects in Drunk Tank

Two Accounts of Excessive Force Caught on Camera


Houston, TX -- (ReleaseWire) -- 08/17/2016 --A recent surveillance video obtained by news outlet Houston ABC13, reveals an incident that took place in the Houston Police Department's drunk-tank cell on March 30, 2016.  The video, which the Harris County District Attorney's Office states is currently under review by civil rights prosecutors, is the second surveillance video capturing an allegedly violent encounter between a Houston police officer and a suspect being held in the drunk tank. 

The first video in question shows an incident that took place in December 2014, when a man named Reuben Williams was arrested for alleged drunk driving, and following a struggle with the officers detaining him, sustained a head injury.  At this time, both the Houston Police Department and Mayor Sylvester Turner have declined to comment on this video. 

The second, more recent video documents an altercation between 43 year old Sharon Graves, who had been arrested for driving while intoxicated and had refused to submit a breath sample at the time of her arrest, and a Houston Police Department officer who remains unidentified at this time.  In the surveillance footage, Graves is shown to stand up from her seat after receiving a "no-refusal" warrant issued by a judge requiring her to submit to have her blood alcohol level tested. 

Graves questioned the legitimacy of the paperwork, standing from her seat and attempting to exit the room while allegedly reaching for the cell phone in her back pocket.  Graves swings her elbow, which strikes the officer on the cheek.  The officer pushes Graves into the seat, punches her with a balled fist, which knocks her to the floor, and puts her hands behind her back and into handcuffs before returning her to the chair.  At this point, other HPD staff enter the room. 

At this time, the officer involved has not been charged with a crime and has not been named to the public.  An announcement made by Houston City Hall states that he has been placed on administrative leave.  Mayor Turner said he expects the Houston Police Department to scrutinize the tape very carefully to make sure the officer acted correctly.  A spokesman for the District Attorney stated that their office is examining the case closely and that the case will most likely appear before a grand jury, where 12 citizens will be able to decide if the officer will be indicted or no-billed.

Sharon Graves had no prior criminal history when she was arrested, and faces either a Class A or Class B misdemeanor DWI charge for her initial arrest. If convicted, Graves faces a fine of up to $4,000, a sentence of up to 1 year, and a possible license suspension of up to 4 years with the possibility of enhancements if her BAC is over .15 (source: http://www.hillcriminaldefense.com/dwi-lawyer/).

For allegedly injuring the officer intentionally while she was performing official duties, Texas Penal Code 22.01. Assaultive Offenses deems the act a third degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Graves has denied both charges and is in the process of filing a complaint with the police department's Internal Affairs Division.

The process of being arrested and charged can be confusing, especially if you feel that your person or your rights have been violated. If you feel that you've had your rights violated by a police officer, contact the Hill Law Firm immediately for a full case evaluation.

About The Hill Law Firm
The Hill Law Firm is comprised of three criminal defense attorneys and dozens of supporting legal staff. The founding attorney, Wayne Hill, has over 35 years of experience as a criminal lawyer and was certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1985. Josh Hill and Lauren Hill are also valuable members of the law firm, each recognized as formidable opponents in the courtroom. Attorneys of the firm have been practicing for multiple decades in Harris County, Texas, and the U.S. Supreme Court system. The attorneys at Hill Law Firm have a thorough understanding of the law, and seek to defend each client to the fullest, while upholding, enforcing and protecting their client's rights under the Texas and United States Constitutions.