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Lawsuit alleges man injured by Austin police during mental health call

Austin American-Statesman - 8/29/2019

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Austin accuses six Austin Police Department officers of unlawfully detaining a man and injuring his shoulder during a mental health call in November 2017.

The man, James Templeton, arrived home to encounter the officers emerging from hiding, the lawsuit states. The officers pulled out guns and pointed them at Templeton, ordering him to his knees and placing him in handcuffs, the lawsuit states. The officers, according to the complaint, ignored Templeton's pleas to remove the handcuffs, which he said were causing immense shoulder pain to the point his knees were buckling.

An officer later pulled on Templeton's arms to lift him to his feet, "causing him so much pain he thought his shoulder was dislocated," the lawsuit states. Templeton's injuries required extensive surgery, according to the complaint.

The city will address the lawsuit in a statement later Thursday, a spokeswoman said.

Templeton's attorney, Brian McGiverin, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. Thursday. McGiverin, of the Austin Community Law Center, has filed past lawsuits alleging excessive force by Austin police.

The six officers named in the lawsuit are Edward Jarmillo, Tara Dicken and four others who are identified only by their last name.

The lawsuit said they abused their power when they detained Templeton against his will because "they had no reason to believe he was a danger to himself or others." The officers, according to McGiverin, should have attempted to obtain a warrant before taking Templeton into custody, but even then, he said, a magistrate judge likely would have denied their request.

"They had no articulable reason to believe he was dangerous when they detained him, and after they frisked him for weapons, they had no objective justification to treat him as dangerous," McGiverin wrote.

The lawsuit comes two days after Austin Police Chief Brian Manley announced that all of his officers will receive additional training for mental health calls after two audits and the Public Safety Commission recommended that doing so could improve the outcomes of those calls.

Templeton, who is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, requested a jury trial.

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