A Williamson County, Texas man has settled a federal lawsuit against two police officers and the county for an undisclosed amount.
Will Aguilar was driving his motorcycle home from a paramedic class April 9, 2009 when Williamson County police officers Daniel Robertson and Michael Baxter stepped into the road and waved at him to pull over. As Aguilar hit his brakes, he began to fishtail past the officers, who allegedly hit him in the shoulder, and then tackled him to the ground. While on the ground, Baxter pistol whipped Aguilar, and kicked him.
Aguilar was transported to the hospital and treated for a broken clavicle. He was allegedly taunted by the officers while at the hospital, and was then transported to jail. The Williamson County officers charged Aguilar with first-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer. He remained in jail for over five months on the charge, which carried a possible sentence of life in prison.
But then something almost unheard of happened. Prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury for indictment, and they returned a “no-bill” — the grand jury refused to indict Aguilar. In legal circles, it is commonly understood that a grand jury will agree to return an indictment for virtually any case presented to it, so this was a rare event indeed.
Upon release from jail, Aguilar sued officers Robertson and Baxter for use of excessive force as well as assault and battery. He also sued Williamson County for failure to supervise and train the officers. The officers moved for summary judgment on a theory of qualified immunity, but U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks denied the motion. Williamson County then moved for summary judgment, arguing that there was no evidence of a policy that encouraged excessive use of force during traffic stops. Judge Sparks denied that motion as well.
With no way to avoid a trial on the merits, the county and the officers quickly settled the case. Details of the July 30, 2013 settlement were not available, and were likely confidential.
Case: Aguilar v. Williamson County, et al., United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Case No. 1:11-cv-00278-SS (July 30, 2013).
Originally published in Criminal Legal News on December 20, 2017.