Man says trooper assaulted, falsely arrested him


by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News and Photojournalist DEREK RASOR

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 7:40 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 11:40 PM

AUSTIN -- An Austin man claims a DPS trooper assaulted and falsely arrested him in a recently filed federal lawsuit.

Dashboard camera video recorded the May 2012 incident. It shows DPS Trooper Chancy Davis and his partner pull over a car off Springdale Road. 

A truck was parked nearby in front of a window tinting business. One of the two men inside was Rey Muniz.

Troopers allow the driver they pulled over to leave. They then approach the truck and demand their identification. Muniz questions why.

"When an officer asks for your ID, you give it to him,” Davis says in the video.

Muniz responds asking Davis, “What’s the law?”

Muniz said he told Davis that if he waited a few minutes, his boss would arrive and verify he worked at the shop.

Less than three minutes into the video, Muniz’s bosses did arrive.

“[Do] y'all know these people?” Davis asked the shop owners. 

"Oh, yes sir," says the owner.

Two minutes later, another business owner arrives, confirming Muniz works at the shop.

"Why the officer kept on after that is beyond me,” Muniz said.

"The inquiry should have stopped. The officer should have left. My client should have been left to go on with his work day,” said Jeff Kelly, Muniz's attorney.

Davis didn’t leave. Instead, he repeats Muniz is breaking the law by failing to provide his identification.

"Right now, I can arrest both of you for fail to ID. The second thing for resisting arrest," Davis says in the video.

In the lawsuit filed this past November, Muniz also claims Davis assaulted him by repeatedly pecking on Muniz’s chest with his index finger.

You can't see it in the video, but you can hear Muniz asking Davis to stop touching him.

“Stop it. I’m not doing anything.  You’re the one who has touched me. You have assaulted me,” says Muniz in the video.

A few minutes later, Davis formally arrests Muniz for failing to show his identification and resisting arrest. In the video, Muniz does not appear to physically resist.

DPS takes Muniz to jail where he spends two nights behind bars. Troopers later find Muniz has a clean record. Four months later, the Travis County District Attorney dropped all charges.

The KVUE Defenders asked Muniz why he didn’t show his ID when he knew he had a clean record.

“This is America. This isn’t Nazi Germany, 'Show me your papers please,'" Muniz said.

DPS said it cannot comment on pending litigation or the trooper's actions, and it would not put KVUE in touch with Davis.

So, what does Texas law say? Statue 38.02 says it's against the law to refuse to give your name, address or date of birth to an officer, but that only applies if the person refuses after they're arrested.

Jennifer Laurin is a law professor at the University of Texas. She specializes in criminal law.

“So, in the instance of simply not telling the police who you are, actually the law only makes that a crime if you’re under arrest,” said Laurin.

In the video, you can hear Muniz ask whether he’s under arrest multiple times. Davis never answers.
It's important to note that by law you must show your driver's license if you're pulled over while driving.

Go here for part two of this investigation.