Earlier this year, Corpus Christi Police Sr. Officer Morton Norman was found in violation of department policies and recommended for termination by Internal Affairs and his chain of command. Police Chief Floyd Simpson did not agree and issued a two-week suspension, citing Norman’s record of service to the city.
Why don’t we look at the facts?
According to the video posted at Action 10 News, the victim, Roderick Hornsby was standing handcuffed, facing the wall as instructed when Norman took him down to the floor, placed his knees on Hornsby’s neck and back, and started to raise Hornsby’s arms up by the handcuffs. This last move has no legitimate control use, but strictly inflicts pain. In most officer self-defense tactics classes, instructors caution against this due to the potential for injury to the subject. In any event, when Morton went before Internal Affairs on the issue, they believed that he lied about the incident and that he falsified the report that he filed on the incident. The last matter is a felony in Texas. Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 37.10. They recommended that he be terminated.
Chief Simpson decided not to do that based on Morton’s good record. This good record includes a previous lawsuit for excessive force. Sosa v. City of Corpus Christi, No. C-06-149, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47318, 2006 WL 1967037 (S.D. Tex. 2006). In that case, Sosa accused Norman and Officer Silva of beating him with batons inside his home. While a portion of the case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had run, the § 1983 claims for excessive force against the officers remained. The city settled the case in December 2006.
Just a year before that, he was sued for *gasp* excessive force. Avalos v. City of Corpus Christi, No. 2:05-cv-00159, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996, 2006 WL 696495 (S.D. Tex. 2006). In that case, the officers repeatedly took the plaintiffs to the ground, causing serious injuries. The officers won in a jury trial, but the point is that two lawsuits for excessive force, regardless of the outcome, should set off alarm bells.
The problem with Morton continuing on the police force is the allegation of lying. From this point forward, he is basically useless as a prosecution witness, as the Nueces County District Attorney would have to notify the defense attorney of that fact. Normally, a good prosecutor will not take a case involving that type of witness. Most police chiefs won’t tolerate lying for that very reason.
Although Morton had appealed his suspension, he decided to retire.
It still doesn’t say anything about Chief Simpson’s judgment.