CLUTE — The family of a 15-year-old girl suspected of attempted burglary is seeking $240,000 in damages from the city of Clute for injuries and duress she said are related to her being taken into custody, a city news release states.
City Council members and administrators discussed the letter the city received from an Alvin lawyer detailing the complaint and compensation request during an executive session last week. The city has declined to release the letter, identify the lawyer who sent it or the officers involved, or answer questions about the incident, instead releasing a prepared statement with its version of events.
An independent investigation of the incident found no wrongdoing on the part of the arresting officers, according to the city.
“Due to the potential of future litigation … the city is not able to comment additionally at this time,” the release states.
The family’s request for $240,000 would be for reimbursement of medical costs and compensation for mental and physical pain and suffering in the past and in the future, according to the statement. Clute has not received any evidence of medical diagnoses, expenses or injury, the release states.
The claims stem from an incident March 15 in an apartment complex parking lot in the 200 block or Hackberry Street, the statement said.
The 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl with her were seen by an officer trying to burglarize cars at the complex, and after calling for assistance, the officer tried to take the two girls into custody, the release states.
As the officer tried to handcuff one girl, the other girl “jumped on the officer’s back” in an attempt to free the first girl, the release states. Another officer arrived and saw the girls resisting arrest and assaulting the first officer, according to the release.
After the second officer separated the girls, they were taken into custody and booked into the Clute Police Department jail, according to the release, then transferred to the Brazoria County Juvenile Detention Facility in Angleton.
About 36 hours after the transfer, the 15-year-old girl was taken to UTMB Health Angleton Danbury Campus after complaining she was injured while in Clute police custody, the release states.
After being informed by juvenile detention authorities of the girl’s complaint, Clute launched an investigation into the girl’s treatment while being taken into custody and after, according to the release. The same day, the girl’s mother made a formal complaint against the police department, the release states.
A third-party, external investigator described by the city as a retired law enforcement officer with many years of law enforcement and investigation experience and currently serves as a law enforcement academy instructor reviewed the incident at the city’s request, the release states. The investigator said he found no evidence of physical injury to either of the girls and deemed the complaint unfounded, the release states.
Clute City Manager CJ Snipes said the city’s decision to withhold details of the complaint is so as not to “hurt any opportunity for … an amicable resolution.”