JASPER, TX (KTRE) - An alleged victim of excessive force by two former East Texas police officers has reached a settlement with the City of Jasper for an undisclosed amount of money on Nov. 14.
East Texas News obtained a copy of the Order on Closing Documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Beaumont Monday. The document listed Keyarika Diggles and the City if Jasper as the two parties in the federal lawsuit.
"The court has been advised by the parties or their attorneys that all claims in the above-styled cause have been settled and compromised," the court document stated.
The order also specified that the two parties in the law suit submit any and all paperwork needed for the closing of the case and removing it from the court's docket by Dec. 13. In addition, the order stated that if the paperwork is not received on time, the parties should be prepared to announce the details of the settlement on the record.
The alleged excessive force incident occurred on May 5, and it was captured by two surveillance cameras at the Jasper County Jail. Both videos were posted to You Tube. In one of the videos, it looks as though one of the two Jasper Police Department officers throws a bag of jail clothes at a chair.
Then it appears as though the female suspect, Keyarika Diggles, and one of the officers gets into a verbal confrontation just outside the camera's point of view. After a scuffle ensues, one officer grabs Diggles by the hair and both men slam her into a counter in the jail office before throwing her to the floor. While Diggles is on the floor, the officers cuff her hands behind her back.
In the video, it looks as though Diggles may have kicked at one of the officers, losing a shoe in the process. At that point, the two officers drag the woman by her ankle and put her into a nearby holding cell.
On June 3, the Jasper City Council voted unanimously to fire the two Jasper Police officers involved in the alleged excessive force incident - Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham. The decision came after a lengthy discussion between council members and the city's attorney.
In addition, the city's leaders also voted unanimously to turn the matter over to the Jasper County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges, according to Jasper Mayor Mike Lout.
Lout said that one of the officers that was terminated Monday morning had also gotten into a separate, unrelated confrontation with a motorist during a traffic stop on May 15.
Lout explained that Diggles was originally charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. He said after she failed to appear in front of the municipal judge, a capias warrant was issued for her arrest.
After Diggles was picked up on the capias warrant, she allegedly made an arrangement to pay the fine in installments, Lout said. He added Diggles paid the first $100 installment, but didn't pay the rest of the fine, so she was arrested on another capias warrant and taken to the Jasper County Jail at approximately 8 a.m. on May 5. The excessive force incident occurred a short time later.
"She refused to do what the officers told her to do and she resisted," Lout said.
In a story that appeared on www.kjas.com , Lout said he was unaware of the alleged excessive force incident until May 29. As soon as the mayor heard about it, he went to the Jasper Police Department to view the videos.
The next morning, Jasper PD Captain Gerald Hall placed the two officers on administrative leave the next morning at Lout's request. Both officers were immediately pulled from their patrol duties.
When East Texas News went to Jasper on June 4, Jasper City Councilman Alton Scott described the two former police officers as "bullies with badges."
"Sometimes things are not always what they appear to be, and when I got the video, now old folks say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when I looked at the video, it spoke volumes," Scott said.
In a previous East Texas News story, Cade Bernsen, Diggles' attorney, said the Jasper City Council's decision to fire the two officers was too little, too late.
"You know they fired the police officers, and I think they were put in a situation where they had to," Bernsen said. "I don't think they did it for the right reasons, but we'll take it."
When asked if he thought the officers' actions were racially motivated, Scott said, "Yes, I do."
"One of the officers had just received some time off with pay and disciplinary action for the way he treated three white people," Lout said.