SHERMAN, Texas (CN) - A Sherman police officer told other officers to "Tase the bitch" during a traffic stop, and officers then beat her to death after stopping her for an illegal lane change, the dead woman's sister claims in court.
Linda Surratt sued the City of Sherman, its police Officer Brian McClarin, and police Officer Does 2-5, for the death of her sister, Lesa Ann Surratt, in Federal Court.
Surratt claims that Officers Doe 2-3 "used excessive and deadly force" that was "completely unwarranted and unnecessary" after stopping her sister for an illegal lane change in August 2013.
"Officer Does 2 and 3, defendant McClarin and defendants Officer Doe 2-5 denied and delayed medical care to Lesa Surratt, resulting in her eventual death," the complaint states. "In an effort to cover up their use of excessive force, defendants McClarin and defendants 2-5, covered up their actions by removing witnesses from the scene and ordering a witness to cease videotaping the encounter."
McClarin, a narcotics officer, directed the stop, believing that Surratt had bought drugs, her sister says in the complaint. Lesa Ann Surratt was in a car with nonparty Monica Garza. Both were arrested and put in the back of a police car.
"While in the rear of the vehicle, Surratt removed a small amount of cocaine from her person and began swallowing it. Garza observed these actions," the complaint states.
It continues: "Doe 2 realized this and climbed in the back seat, across the body of Garza, and began striking Surratt with open fist and then his flashlight to get her to spit up the cocaine. When this was not successful, Doe 2 placed the flashlight diagonally against the right side of Surratt's neck and pushed down, choking Surratt with the flashlight until she lost consciousness.
"Doe 2 and Doe 3 removed Surratt from the vehicle. On the ground, Officer McClarin gave the order to 'Tase the bitch.' McClarin and Does 2-3 then began hitting Surratt with open hands and flashlights. One of the officers Tased Surratt upon the orders of McClarin. Surratt had lost consciousness as a result of this continuous excessive and deadly force, including being choked with the flashlight in the vehicle.
"Officer Does 4-5 arrived and began intimidated and removing witnesses from the scene of the civil rights violation. They told a witness videotaping the encounter to put away his video phone and go home.
"Surratt lay on the ground for 20 minutes or more convulsing in seizures before any of defendants called for an EMT. She was in obvious need of medical treatment from the time she was removed from the patrol car. She was allowed by the officers to continue to deteriorate to the point of being brain dead."
An autopsy showed that Surratt died of asphyxiation, her sister says.
She seeks punitive damages for excessive force, constitutional violations, wrongful death, assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
She is represented by Don Bailey, of Sherman.