GREENVILLE, Texas (KLTV) - A man who was accused of capital murder and was later cleared in the crime has filed a lawsuit, seeking $3.15 million in damages.
The lawsuit refers to a fatal shooting at a homecoming party held at a venue in Greenville on Oct. 27, 2019. Two men died in the shooting, and others were injured by gunfire and by broken glass as they rushed from the building through windows as shots rang out. After questioning witnesses, Brandon Gonzales was arrested and held on $1 million bond.
After nine days, Gonzales was released from the Hunt County Jail, as there was “exculpatory evidence” that he was not the shooter that night. He was declared innocent, the lawsuit says.
Gonzales has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and others after he says he was falsely accused and imprisoned.
Two men were killed in the shooting, and ten others injured, either by gunfire or by rushing to jump out windows and being cut by glass. After questioning witnesses, Gonzales was arrested. The lawsuit says that a number of people rushed to Gonzales' defense, even showing up at the sheriff’s office, to say that he was definitely not the person who did the shooting. However, one anonymous source told the sheriff that Gonzales was the shooter. The source, referred to as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, is named as a defendant in Gonzales' case against those involved.
The incident occurred at an unofficial Texas A&M homecoming party. Gonzales had gone to the party at around 11 p.m., he told police, and after awhile, he decided to leave because it was too crowded and very hot inside. He went to the car of the friend he rode with, got in, and made a FaceTime call, he said. While sitting in the car waiting for his friend, according to the lawsuit, he saw people come running from the building. He said he did not know what had happened. His friend got in the car and they went home as normal, the suit says.
The next day, Oct. 28, 2019, Gonzales was arrested for capital murder at his job at a car dealership. The lawsuit claims that the arresting officer, who is named specifically in the lawsuit, told him he would “make sure he gets the needle” for the fatal shooting. Gonzales continually defended himself, saying numerous times he was innocent and had not been inside the venue when the shooting happened, lawyers say.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks announced via press conference after Gonzales' arrest that he felt confident that the right person had been arrested. The probable cause arrest was based on credible information and statements given to law enforcement, he said at the time.
As a result of the arrest and nationwide media coverage, Gonzales' lawyers say he lost his job, was confronted by numerous people after his arrest saying he was a “mass murderer,” and was forced to leave Texas, as well as three children who live with their mother. He moved to Florida to be near his mother, but they say even there people recognized him and followed him around, calling him a murderer.
The lawsuit says that Gonzales suffered loss of wages, because he was not rehired even after his innocence was announced, due to bad publicity. He suffered emotional distress, loss of family relationships, and other repercussions as a result of his false imprisonment.