Keller to pay $200,000 to settle excessive force lawsuit against 2 officers
KELLER, Texas - The city of Keller agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit with a man who accused two police officers of excessive force during a traffic stop.
The alleged incident happened back in August, and the lawsuit was filed in December. That prompted the city to release body and dash camera video.
The videos show Keller Police Department Sgt. Blake Shimanek pulling Dillon Puente over for making a wide right turn. During the stop, Dillon’s father, Marco Puente pulled up and began using his cellphone to record the arrest.
While Marco was recording his son's arrest from the sidewalk, Sgt. Shimanek told another officer to arrest him for blocking the roadway.
Puente's attorneys said he was not resisting arrest, yet the second officer, Officer Ankit Tomer, sprayed his eyes with pepper spray twice.
Within hours of the incident, Keller PD’s command staff reviewed the case and the charge of interference against Marco Puente was dropped. Keller’s mayor said Dillon Puente was later reimbursed for the fine from the traffic violation.
Sgt. Shimanek was demoted after an internal review, but Officer Tomer was not disciplined.
Marco said he filed the lawsuit because he doesn't want other citizens being treated like he and his son were.
Marco’s attorneys, Scott Palmer and James Roberts, say the settlement sends a message.
"Police misconduct and abuse of power is coming to an end," Roberts said. "People will no longer accept it."
"It's an expensive lesson at the end of the day," Palmer said. "Police officers that cost their cities money, it's a reminder that you've got to behave better."
In a statement, the city of Keller said it is pleased that a mediated settlement agreement has been achieved, although the final documents still need to be signed by everyone involved.
The settlement does not require the city to take any further actions against the officers.
"Chief Fortune seems like a decent guy, like going to do the right thing," Marco said. "He apologized soon after it happened and apologized in town hall meetings. I think he knows the right thing to do."
The police chief will be sharing with the city council policy changes that are a result of this incident at a date, which has not yet been announced.
The city is also pointing out that its insurance company is paying for all but a $5,000 deductible for the settlement.
Keller City Council to discuss lawsuit claiming excessive force by 2 officers
Keller police chief, city addresses controversial August arrests