CLEAT responds to APD officer lawsuit

AUSTIN -- A civil lawsuit claims in August 2013 Officer Jason Cummins responded to a domestic disturbance but ended up kicking a hole in a screen door and Tasering the couple's neighbor, Enemencio Alaniz, Jr., two times.

The lawsuit says Officer Cummins used excessive force after Alaniz refused to leave his apartment.

"Mr. Alaniz was standing directly in front of his 2-year-old son when he was Tased the first time. He fell down and he caught himself with his hand and injured his hand and broke multiple fingers," said Alaniz' attorney Ryan Macleod.

Officer Cummins joined APD in April 2010, and he works the night shift in Central East Austin. According to the federal lawsuit, he's used force 50 times over the last four years. Alaniz' attorney say he used a Taser seven times, most recently in September 2013.

The president of the Austin Police Association, Wayne Vincent, says 50 uses of force is not a high number because of APD's reporting requirement. Officers must report every time they touch a suspect beyond handcuffing them.

CLEAT released a statement calling the lawsuit "baseless."

"This lawsuit is wholly without merit," said John Moritz, a spokesman for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas. "The Austin Police Department found no fault with Officer Cummins' action, and neither will any jury in the unlikely event that it ever gets that far."

According to APD, officers used force 3,321 times in 2012, the most recent year on record. Officers with one to five years of experience contributed to 53 percent of use of force cases.

A background check on Alaniz and found he spent 120 days in jail after pleading guilty to drug possession in 2009. Police also arrested him January 2013 for driving on an invalid license.

CLEAT represents nearly 19,000 Texas peace officers in labor and legal matters. The Austin Police Association is an affiliated local of CLEAT.


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