A Buda couple has filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Buda, Wal-Mart and a Buda police officer, accusing false imprisonment and excessive force after an October 2014 encounter.
The complaint, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, claims Juan Martinez was thrown to the ground by Officer Demerriel Young after his wife was detained on suspicion of shoplifting on Oct. 3, 2014.
According to the complaint, Martinez, then 73, and his wife were shopping together at the Wal-Mart on Old San Antonio Road before the incident and “eventually became separated.” Both Juan and his wife Guadalupe were on scooters, “due to their inability to ambulate easily.”
The document goes on to state Guadalupe began looking for her husband and accidentally exited the store with items in the front basket of her scooter. Security stopped and apprehended her, accusing her of stealing several items and escorting her to a security room.
Juan approached the room where his wife was being questioned and got into a “heated exchange involving Officer Young.” The document added that Young was in the office where Guadalupe was being questioned.
“Officer Young approached Juan Martinez and asked him to leave the office. Mr. Martinez wanted to see his wife. Officer Young unnecessarily escalated the situation and used force excessive to the need. Specifically, Officer Young tackled the elderly and disabled Martinez, failing to control the descent of Mr. Martinez and slammed him hard onto the floor,” the complaint document stated.
The complaint added Martinez suffered several broken ribs, “and sustained various other injuries.”
The lawsuit alleges the city’s “policies, customs and practices lead to the incident,” and that Wal-Mart employees were negligent in handling the incident. An exact monetary amount for damages sought was not listed in the complaint.