In a response filed Friday to a federal civil rights lawsuit involving a 17-year-old who lost vision in his left eye when his face was struck with pepper spray from a police JPX gun, the City of Texarkana, Texas, alleges it was the teen’s own misconduct that’s to blame not excessive use of force by a police officer.
DaQuan Huey’s mother, Miracle Farr, filed a civil suit alleging police misconduct cost her son an eye Jan. 27. The suit seeks damages from the city and Texarkana, Texas, Police Officer Scott Lillis. Texarkana attorney Robert Weber filed a response to the suit Friday which alleges Huey was resisting arrest and grabbing Lillis’ duty belt when he was struck with pepper spray from a JPX gun.
Huey alleges he was put in a choke hold and shot in the face with the JPX by Lillis after trying to stop an altercation. The city’s response alleges Huey was carrying a baseball bat when officers arrived and that he shouted epithets when ordered to drop it.
The response claims Huey was in a fighting or boxing stance while facing a woman with whom he was arguing when Lillis approached him. The city’s answer to the complaint alleges Huey looked directly at Lillis and was aware a uniformed police officer was approaching. The response alleges that police dash cam and body cam video support the claims that Huey was struggling with Lillis when the JPX gun was deployed.
When given a command to back up, the woman facing Huey obeyed, the response states, but Huey allegedly continued to stand with his fists clenched.
“Officer Lillis then attempted to stop and detain Huey because Huey was the bigger of the two aggressors. To gain control and detain Huey, Officer Lillis placed his left hand and arm on the shoulder and back of the neck of Huey but at no time did Lillis choke Huey. Huey immediately resisted by pushing and pulling on Officer Lillis’s hips and grabbing and holding Lillis’s duty belt which held his radio, baton and service pistol,” the city’s answer states. “At this point Huey was on higher ground than Lillis. Lillis sensed he was losing balance and concerned he would fall. Lillis still had the JPX in his right hand at an anchor point position at his right hip. Lillis deployed one (1) round of JPX gel just as Huey moved his upper body and head downwards. At no time did Lillis aim for or place the JPX directly at or on Huey’s head.”
According to the response, the struggle between Lillis and Huey lasted less than four seconds from the time Lillis put his hand on Huey’s back to the deployment of the JPX gun.
Huey claims Lillis’ use of the JPX constitutes excessive force and he is seeking damages from Lillis and the City of Texarkana, Texas. The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.