Recently, the city of Dallas awarded $1.1 million to Ronald Jones after he was falsely arrested and beaten by members of the Dallas Police Department. He was also in jail for 15 months after the arrest.
The incident began after officers were notified that “two white men” were fighting in a downtown Dallas location. As officers were nearing the location, Officer Matthew Antkowiak saw Jones cross Reunion Boulevard. Jones is African-American and therefore, did not meet the description of either of the men involved in the fight.
However, Officer Antkowiak claimed that Jones was throwing beer cans. The officers pulled over and went to arrest Jones. Two dash cameras, located in the police cruiser, caught what happened next on film. One officer “pulls one of Mr. Jones’ arms up very aggressively and Mr. Jones turns around to see what is going on and why was he being placed under arrest, and from there it goes,” says Jones’ attorney, Don Tittle.
There was a struggle and Jones was taken to the ground and hit a few times before more officers arrived at the scene. On the tape, you can see an officer kicking Jones multiple times. Tittle says that Jones was crying for help. In a police report, written by Officer Antkowiak, it is said that Jones “grabbed the officer by the throat, choking him and lifting him off the ground.” Unfortunately for Officer Antkowiak, it is clear that the choking was done by him, not by Jones. The officer even tried to argue that Jones “kicked him in the testicles and groin area, while still choking him.” The video shows no proof of that egregious claim.
Jones’ counsel has also said that one of the officers is asked to turn the dash camera off. Officers claim that after the camera was turned off, a crack pipe was found and said that Jones was intoxicated. Subsequently, Jones was arrested for aggravated assault of a police officer and sat in jail for 15 months until his attorney was finally able to have access to the dash camera videos. His attorney credits those videos as Jones’ saving grace. Without these videos, “it’s likely that Mr. Jones would have been convicted of this and served a very long prison sentence,” Tittle said.
Once the videos came to light, the district attorney dropped the charges and then took another two years for police to have the case looked at by internal affairs and criminal investigations. Officer Antkowiak resigned, but the other officers were cleared. The city also gave Jones $1.1 million dollars as settlement. According to the police chief, the force has “enacted stricter policies on how investigations like this are handled.”
What do you think about this situation? While this case is troubling, it is not as uncommon as most people would like to think. Unfortunately, things like this happen more often than anyone could ever believe. It’s situations like this that remind me how important it is to work with an experienced attorney who can help.