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Racially Motivated Traffic Stop and Arrest by Texas Police Leads to Settlement

by Christopher Zoukis

    After police in Brownsville, Texas, arrested a man for drunk driving and running a red light when tests showed that he was not intoxicated, the man sued for racially motivated treatment. A settlement was reached between the parties for an undisclosed amount prior to trial.

     Early in the morning on May 13, 2007, James Henry Green was en route to pick up a friend in Brownsville, Texas, when he was pulled over by the Brownsville Police. Without telling Green why he was stopped, Officer Freddy Martinez had Green perform a roadside sobriety test. According to Green, he told the officer that he wouldn't be able to successfully perform a walk and turn test because he had previously undergone three back surgeries. Green was then arrested.

     At the jail, Green was given a breath test to determine the presence of alcohol for the first time. It did not detect the presence of any alcohol. Green was then booked into the jail for running a red light. Martinez allegedly told Green that he would have to spend the night in jail because his vehicle had been impounded. Green was in jail for around 13 hours until he was released on a $500 bond. The charge for running a red light was dismissed on June 18.

     Green, who is African-American, complained to the Internal Affairs Division of the Brownsville Police Department on March 25, 2008. He argued that he was falsely arrested because of his race. After receiving no response, Green filed a complaint in federal court against Martinez, the city of Brownsville, City Manager Charlie Cabler, and Police Chief Carlos Garcia on May 8. He argued that the traffic stop and arrest were pretextual in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.

     On December 3, 2009, a settlement was reached among the parties and the case was dismissed by Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa on December 5.

 See: Green v. City of Brownsville, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division, Case No. 7:09-cv-00131 (Dec. 5, 2009)

 

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Related legal case

Green v. City of Brownsville, et al., United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, McAllen Division

 

 

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