A Texas woman injured during an arrest by Austin police in 2017 has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the two officers who arrested her, alleging excessive force.
Breanna Williams says Austin police officers Vanessa Jimenez and Nathan Canche, two officers we’ve written about before, pushed her in the back of a patrol car in 2017, injuring her head on a seat belt receiver.
Officers pushed Williams, 41, with so much force it gashed her head, which required 60 stitches and cause her emotional, physical and professional problems, her lawsuit says.
It happened in June 2017 when Williams was in the bathroom of the Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin with a friend. She said she was staying in a room with her ex-husband, her daughter and her stepdaughter.
But a hotel employee accused them of being sex workers, which sparked an argument before police were called by hotel employees.
“A hotel employee, for some reason, we caught her attention. She came into the restroom, started being pretty verbal with us, aggressive, accused of us doing cocaine,” Williams told KXAN.
“Accused us of—not so veiled—of being prostitutes. And we just kind of got into an altercation with her, verbally.”
Hotel management initially told police one of the woman slapped a security guard, although video of the incident, which can be seen above, doesn’t show that.
Instead, video shows a hotel security guard mounted on top of Williams, holding her down on the ground with his weight with her hands behind her back until Austin police officers arrive.
As soon as officers arrive, Williams said they handcuffed her, picked her up from the ground and walked her outside.
“They took me around the side of the car and I was facing the inside of the car, talking to them with my hands cuffed and he pushed me very hard and I fell in and my entire face was cut open,” Williams recalled the night of the incident.
“From the time that they arrived at the hotel, it was SWAT-style. It was very violent. It was very no-questions-asked; just hostile.”
“I started screaming, crying. I couldn’t pull myself up, I had to just lay there. They left me there for a second, then they pulled me up and then they realized what had happened.”
“Breanna was handcuffed when they threw her down. What they did was an unconstitutional use of force on someone being arrested.”
And more pointedly, it was cruel,” Brian McGiverin, Williams’ attorney, said.
This lawsuit isn’t the first time McGiverin has filed a lawsuit against the same officers for excessive force.
In 2017, McGiverin filed a lawsuit against the very same two Austin police officers, Vanessa Jimenez and Nathan Canche, in a lawsuit that was filed after video went viral online in 2015 showing APD officers punching a man several times for jaywalking.
In September 2016, former Austin Police Chief Hubert “Art” Acevedo signed off on a suspension for officer Vanessa Jimenez after she tasered a man who was already handcuffed in a jail booking room.
Jimenez later admitted “her use of the Taser was not objectively reasonable as there were lesser means available to control the subject,” then-chief Acevedo wrote.
Officers Jimenez and Canche charged Williams with four crimes including public intoxication, resisting arrest and two counts of simple assault.
However, charges of assault and public intoxication have since been dropped against Williams, according to McGiverin.
Our story from 2015 covering Jimenez and Canche’s interaction with a jaywalking man, showing their use of excessive force on full display, can be read below.
Watch video of Williams arrest above.