A Dallas man was awarded $1.1 million after settling with police in a huge lawsuit stemming from a 2009 incident that wrongly landed the man in jail for 15 months.
Ronald Bernard Jones was arrested and charged with two felonies that were later dismissed and spent 15 months in prison insisting that he was innocent. The horrific incident occurred in December 2009 when police were out responding to a call involving two white males. Jones, who is black and was walking alone the night of the incident, was approached by the officers.
In the police report, officers claimed that Jones threw an open beer can at one of the officers, choked another one out, and resisted arrest. Dashcam video, however, doesn’t show any of this, and toxicology showed that Jones had no alcohol or drugs in his system.
The officers continued in the police report that Jones kept resisting arrest and, at one point, one of the officers saw him pull out a knife. After the investigation into the incident, however, it was discovered that Jones was not armed with any weapon. Another officer claimed that a drug pipe was found underneath a squad car, but the angle that the vehicle was pointing did not show that. At the end of the video, one officer orders another to turn off the dashboard camera, and at that point, the video ends.
Jones was arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a public servant and cocaine possession. Nothing in the police report accurately proves those charges, however, and it appears that most of the details were fabricated.
Jones spent 15 months in prison during the trial until the charges were dismissed by a judge. The entire time, Jones was offered multiple plea deals, but he stuck to his guns and turned each one down. One of the arresting cops, Officer Matthew Antkowiak, resigned from the department in January 2012.
Now, Dallas police have settled the case with Jones for $1.1 million, and the lawyer that represented him in the lawsuit against the department says that justice was served.
“When the city pays more than $1 million to settle a civil rights case, there should be a serious investigation,” said attorney Don Tittle. “You can count the number of settlements of that magnitude on one hand. It involved multiple officers, it involved turning off videos, it involved fabricating arrest reports and testimony. To me, that’s as serious as it gets.”
Dallas Police Chief David Brown continued to defend the officers, despite evidence against him, but did admit that if the lawsuit went before a jury, the city wouldn’t “get much sympathy.”