Lewis v. City of Jacksonville, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34754 (E. Dist Texas 2007)
The Public Agency Training Council (PATC) compiled a reference of police misconduct, citing Jacksonville, Texas police officer Larry Pugh’s federal rape and retaliation against a resident named Evelyn Lewis. Pugh, in uniform and a patrol car, picked Evelyn Lewis up walking home from a friend’s house one evening, drove her to abandoned house in downtown Jacksonville and proceeded to rape her repeatedly. Pugh threatened to shoot her if she did not comply.
The PATC finding is titled “Sexual Misconduct- the need for policy and training” and is aptly used as a testimonial to other law enforcement agencies on How NOT to handle rape complaints against fellow officers.
The article cites the lawsuit Evelyn Lewis filed against the city of Jacksonville, describes the run around she got from the Jacksonville police department, the deliberate postponement of her statement by the Cherokee County district attorney’s office; and how Larry Pugh was recruited- even though the plaintiff “felt like the City of Jacksonville knew something bad about Pugh before he raped me.” The Jacksonville detective who first interviewed Evelyn Lewis indicated that “they [the police department] had a suspicion” of Officer Pugh’s pattern of sexual misconduct. The motions filed in response to Evelyn Lewis’ civil suit ignored the other multiple complaints Cherokee County District Attorney Investigator Joe Evans claims to have investigated at the behest of the FBI. Someone in the region finally decided to follow up on Evelyn Lewis’ complaint nearly a month after she was raped at gunpoint and dragged off with a belt around her neck.
Officer Larry Pugh’s excessive force during the Tomato Bowl riot (a fight that broke out between security and spectators during the 2004 Jacksonville High School homecoming) was brought into the Defendant’s response. However, no mention or investigation of Officer’s Pugh other missing federal witnesses, ones’ whose decomposed remains were found in the Angelina National Forest. Hence the necessity for the Cherokee County district attorney and county attorney to continue to prosecute those beaten and battered for “resisting arrest” during the Tomato Bowl Homecoming game fiasco- including Larry Hinton of Jacksonville and a 13 year-old girl. Put on trial despite affiant Officer Larry Pugh awaiting sentencing for his Rape and Retaliation charges. Of course this caveat never made into the local papers, instead County Attorney Craig Caldwell repeated the district attorney’s lie that a ‘material witness’ was not available. Instead of the fact that the arresting officer was out on federal bond when they prosecuted Larry Hinton. Or as Craig Caldwell put it in the January 27, 2007 Jacksonville Daily Progress, prosecutors “had trouble getting one of the witnesses that [sic] could have been necessary to prove that allegation” of resisting arrest. Hinton was acquitted of “interfering” with the actions of Officer Larry Pugh and associates; however the entire process was and will always be designed to make sure the city and county may never be held accountable for the actions of a rogue officer. Felony charges of evading arrest were dropped against Larry Hinton so that the defense could not have Jacksonville police officer Larry Pugh’s statements on the record. Prosecutors certainly were not going to call Larry Pugh to the stand in an orange jumpsuit.
But they would be willing to lie through their collective teeth in order to stave off a pending lawsuit against the City of Jacksonville and the Cherokee County Sheriff Department- in case their good buddy Larry Pugh was acquitted in federal court somehow.
The case by Evelyn Lewis against the City of Jacksonville, TX and the chief of police was dismissed by summary judgment in Tyler’s US District Court. No evidence sought on Larry Pugh’s missing dead witnesses- no evidence offered by counsel to sway the sympathetic Eastern District Court that somehow the city of Jacksonville, Texas was responsible for the police officers they hire.
Read Jacksonville police chief Mark Johnson’s Motion for Summary Judgment signed as quick as it hit the bench:
If Larry Pugh had driven his patrol car into a busload of Justices’ wives on their way to the Louisiana casinos, you can bet the city of Jacksonville would have been liable and financially accountable…
For the courts to find that Officer Larry Pugh did not have a prior propensity for brutality and the Jacksonville, Texas police department was not aware of his history of violence is totally absurd. Cherokee County District Attorney Investigator Joe Evans claimed to have interviewed over 30 individuals in the region who backed up Evelyn Lewis’ statements. Evans cited complaints going back years from Officer Pugh’s previous employers in Athens, TX. Nonetheless, Larry Pugh was one of Cherokee County’s most decorated and lauded patrolmen.
The US District court’s legal arguments against the Plaintiff deliberately ignored the reality of Cherokee County, Texas.
1. Failure to Supervise or Train: obviously the PATC rehash of this case indicates the city of Jacksonville, TX and Cherokee County in general allows its Constables and Peace Officers to do whatever, whenever they want. In between jury duty, Precinct 3 Constable Randall Thompson drove his county SUV back and forth from Rusk, Texas and the Valley during his crystal meth distribution runs (that nabbed him 10 years in federal prison). Officer Larry Pugh’s actions by the Summary Judgment’s admission (and Pugh’s 12-year sentence) indicated Pugh could go off to filthy cemeteries and abandoned houses for hours in his own police cruiser, without calling dispatch. And Officer Pugh could rape women for hours while he drew his city salary – unless his superiors were always actually aware of his and victims’ whereabouts. The Texas City Attorneys Association (TCAA) even uses the Evelyn Lewis rape case to educate municipalities on the proper methods of handling police misconduct: http://www.tml.org/legal_tcaanews/news072307.html
2. Deficient hiring practices: Need we look any further than the City of New Summerfield, Texas hiring Michael Meissner to be the Chief of Police of their one horse town? Despite the fact that Meissner was not even certified or licensed to carry a gun or badge? Of course Cherokee County’s retention of law enforcement personnel is unsatisfactory by TCLEOSE standards. Former Nacogdoches Sheriff and current Cherokee County District Attorney Investigator Joe Evans affirmed dozens of other cases of brutality and sexual misconduct from Pugh’s former employer- the Athens, Texas police department. The city of Jacksonville actively recruited Officer Pugh BECAUSE of his past, as the mayor of New Summerfield did with Michael Meissner. Out of all the candidates out there vying for a position with the Jacksonville PD, chief of police Mark Johnson handpicked the guy who was linked to another missing complainant, Terri Reyes. Terri Reyes was another of Pugh’s rape victims from Athens, TX whose corpse was discovered months before this Summary Judgment was ‘decided’ and Larry Pugh’s sentencing.
3. Covering up police misconduct: One day before Constable Randall Thompson was indicted in federal court for dealing drugs, the 369th District Court convened an ‘impromptu’ hearing to have him stripped of his badge for “not showing up for work” after Thompson was appointed the coveted Precinct 3 constableship and Cherokee County criminal court bailiff position. Thompson also worked as a correctional officer in Rusk, Texas. Their good buddy Randy Thompson was supposedly supplementing his income to feed his “babies” on child support, so he resorted to traveling down to the Mexican border on the taxpayers’ dollar, to sell narcotics to undercover federal agents. But there’s never been a “Deficient Procedure Involving the Discovery of Police Misconduct;” Cherokee County, the city of Jacksonville, Texas et al just pretends never to have worked with the likes of Thompson or Pugh by having a District Court hearing to absolve themselves of keeping these federal convicts on the payroll for years. Mark Johnson, no stranger himself to FBI scrutiny, was immediately appointed Randall Thompson’s Precinct 3 Constable position in Jacksonville after both their resignations.
Larry Pugh pleaded guilty on September 28, 2006 to THREE counts of sexual assault against women in his custody and RETAILATION against one who came forward. Jacksonville, Texas police officer Larry Pugh is now serving 17 years in federal prison. Pugh also faced sentencing for perjury for lying under oath to federal authorities. Reported on June 30, 2008 in the Tyler News Larry Pugh has been sentenced to 18 months for perjury, running successively with his other sentences.
Remaining witnesses and plaintiffs against Jacksonville, Texas and police officer Larry Pugh have either had their cases dismissed or the plaintiffs/complainants themselves have vanished without further injustice. Let’s face the facts: there will never be any motivation to further prosecute the individual(s) responsible for killing and disposing of Larry Pugh’s federal witnesses. Nor will there be evenhandedness doled out to the VICTIMS in this psuedo-culture of EQUITY. For the US District Court in East Texas to accept and hear any police misconduct civil rights suit might in fact be an admission of guilt. By its very design the process is meant to prevent lawsuits from ever being heard. Of course the city of Jacksonville, TX is responsible for the conduct of its officers- the city settled numerous suits from the Tomato Bowl riot and set pecuniary losses (coupled with higher Property Taxes for 2007-2008) at an all time high for Cherokee County.
Civil rights suits in East Texas that could bankrupt a small town are apparently disposed of as easy as a rapist cop’s complainants. Other victims trying to sue Larry Pugh and the city of Jacksonville, Texas can be found in the civil rights case –
Sandra Rene Roca, Tonya Burns, Debra A Williams, Felicia A Colbert, Della Tyler, Wanda Wilson and Felicia Mosley v . Larry Pugh, the city of Jacksonville, Texas et al, No. 6:2007cv-00081 (US Dist. Ct., E.D. Texas, Tyler Division, February 15, 2007).
Recent civil rights cases, including Evelyn Lewis’ filed against Officer Larry Pugh, Police Chief Mark Johnson and/or the city of Jacksonville, Texas:
Mikey Ann Moses vs. Larry Pugh et al, No. 62007cv00009 (Us Dist Ct. E.D. Texas, Tyler Division January 5, 2007).
Evelyn Lewis v. Larry Pugh, Mark Johnson, City of Jacksonville Police Department, and City of Jacksonville, No. 6:06-cv-357 (US Dist. Ct., E.D. Texas, Tyler Division, May 11, 2007).
David George Baugh vs. city of Jacksonville, Texas et al, No. 6:2008cv00173 and No. 6:2008cv00219 (Us Dist Ct. E.D. Texas, Tyler Division May 5, 2008 and May 30, 2008 respectively).
View Larry Pugh’s final civil appeal filed August 18, 2008 in the US District Court: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions/unpub/07/07-40662.0.wpd.pdf