Corpus Christi Officer Morton Norman

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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 forceSosa 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 forceAvalos 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.

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Another Example of Police in Texas not Knowing the Law – Corpus Christi

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Here we go again, with Texas cops not knowing the law.  This time it is out of Corpus Christi and not only one, but two lieutenants are involved.  Here are the four videos of the incident.

Here the user shows that he is videotaping from his own property and that he is openly carrying a holstered pistol.  Texas is not an open carry state, but the statute that covers this is Unlawfully Carrying a Weapon, Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 46.02.  This law states that: “A person commits an offense if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries on or about his or her person a handgun, illegal knife, or club if the person is not on the person’s own premises or premises under the person’s control….”  Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 46.02 (Vernon).  At about 5:00 in part 1, the two officers approach and the user (Gloc361) advises them not to enter his property.  The officers then try to tell him that he can’t openly carry a pistol (at 5:26).  This is flat out incorrect.  See Johnson v. State, 269 S.W.2d 406 (Tex. Crim. App. 1954) (“Appellant had the lawful right to carry a pistol on his own premises and this right extended to every part thereof.”); Mireles v. State, 192 S.W. 241, 243 (Tex. Crim. App. 1917) (“Clearly, under the law and evidence, he was not guilty of violating the law in carrying said [weapon] on either the forty acres of tillable land that he had rented from Mr. Roberts nor in Mr. Roberts’ pasture, where he kept his team, and had the right to go to get them as a part of his rented premises….”).  A person can openly carry a handgun on his own property.

It appears that at about 1:00-05 in the second video that the officer makes a comment about notifying Child Protective Services, although the audio is not clear enough for me to be absolutely positive on this.  If she did mention that, then it is wrong on so many levels.  First, the lawful presence of firearms does not pose a danger to the child.  Second, using CPS as a threat for compliance is just vile.  At about 1:45 a third officer tries to tell him that he can wear the gun inside his house, but not outside.  Case law clearly doesn’t support that.  Mireles, 192 S.W. at 243.  In addition, “premises” is not limited to inside of a building.  See Tex. Atty. Gen. Op. No. H-185 (1973) (“The term ‘premises’ has attached to it various meanings, owing to the connection in which it is used, but, generally speaking, the term includes not only buildings, but the lot or land upon which the same are situated.”, citing Merch. & Mfgs.’ Lloyds’ Ins. Exch. et al. v. S. Trading Co. of Texas, 205 S.W. 352 (Tex. Civ. App.–Fort Worth, 1918)).

This is only 15 seconds, and really doesn’t cover much.

Here he talks to two different lieutenants.  The individual asks the lieutenant if he is violating the law.  The first lieutenant to talk to him will flat out not answer his question, but repeats what the other officer stated, that he could not be outside with a sidearm.  When pressed, the lieutenant states that it just “looks odd.”  Last time I checked, “looking odd” was not a violation of the penal statutes of the State of Texas.

At 3:52, Lt. Tim Brown walks up and states that the individual is creating a breach of the peace, causing alarm.  See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 46.02  Again, this is not correct according to case law in Texas.  A recent case in Dallas addressed this very issue, stating:

Although the State maintains the fact that someone called the police is sufficient to show the gun was displayed in a way calculated to cause alarm, we cannot agree. The mere fact that the police were called is not evidence of the way in which the gun was displayed.

Grieve v. State, 05-07-00156-CR, 2008 WL 2152890 (Tex. App.—Dallas May 22, 2008, no pet.).  See also Bedford v. State, 69 S.W. 158 (Tex. Crim. App. 1902) (if pistol was displayed in a threatening manner, calculated to alarm, it is an offense);Jones v. State, 01-98-00645-CR, 1999 WL 517135 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] July 22, 1999, no pet.) (when subject grabbed victim and held her for a time, told her she was his and that she belonged to him, then pulled a knife from his pocket and opened it, he displayed it in a manner calculated to alarm); Biggerstaff v. State, 2 S.W.2d 256 (Tex. Crim. App. 1927) (speaking of the exhibition of deadly weapons or the semblance thereof in an angry and threatening manner calculated to alarm).Lt. Brown, without some evidence of a threatening display of the pistol, you can not show the elements of Disorderly Conduct.  Lt. Brown then compounds the error by demanding identification, and stating that he has the right to know who he is talking to on a police contact.  In fact, he doesn’t.  We discussed this in more depth at this post and this post, but unless he is arrested, he is under absolutely no obligation to identify himself to police.

The District is commanded by Capt. David Blackmon (DavidBl@cctexas.com) and the Chief is Chief Floyd Simpson (FloydS@cctexas.com).  Note that Corpus Christi is one of the few police departments in Texas that have a union contract, and they also have a unique rank structure of Officer, Sr. Officer, Lieutenant, Captain, Commander, Asst. Chief, and Chief.  There are no Sergeants.

 

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