Back in June, a civil lawsuit was filed against the Sherman Police Department by a woman, who claimed officers used excessive and deadly force in the death of her sister. News 12 has obtained the police dash cam video from the arrest made back in August of last year.
In this video you can see Lesa Suratt being pulled over for a traffic stop. About five minutes after the stop, Surratt was handcuffed and arrested, and placed in the back of a Sherman Police vehicle.
According to the Texas Rangers’ report, Surratt was able to free one hand from the handcuffs, place a small sandwich bag of drugs in her mouth, and attempt to swallow the bag.
The report states when officers returned to the vehicle, they noticed Surratt had something in her mouth and tried to make her open her mouth.
The report states Officers used pressure to the side of Surratt’s jaw and left side of her neck to get her to open her mouth.
A lawsuit filed by Surratt’s sister, Linda, claims the officers used excessive and deadly force.
It states officers began to strike her with an open fist and flashlight to get her to spit it out, and says officers waited for 20 minutes or more to call for medical help once they realized she swallowed the bag.
In the video officers can be seen trying to get Surratt out of the vehicle, pulling her across the other passenger, Monica Garza, in the process.
The report states once Surratt was pulled out of the vehicle, officers began to use life saving measures to help Suratt breathe.
The report and lawsuit both state that Surratt later died at Texas Health Presbyterian- Wilson N Jones Hospital, and an autopsy revealed she had died from asphyxiation.
While the lawsuit claims officers used excessive force, Sherman Police Chief, Otis Henry, says his officers did nothing wrong.
“The actions of our officers were investigated by an outside agency, the Texas Rangers,” said Henry. “The results of their investigation were presented to a Grand Jury and they reviewed the evidence and investigation, and they determined there was no wrongdoing.”
Sherman City Attorney, Brandon Shelby, says both parties plan to meet next month.
“It’s a conference with the judge where they map out upcoming deadlines as far as discovery goes, dispositive motions, and that sort of thing,” Shelby said. “So they are very, very early in the civil suit.”
Shelby also released a statement to News 12 saying:
“The City of Sherman released the dash cam videos of an August 2013 traffic stop involving the late Lesa Surratt in response to an Attorney General ruling. The City originally sought to withhold the videos at the request of the deceased’s family. We understand and agree that the contents of the video may be disturbing or embarrassing to the deceased’s family; however, the Attorney General ruled that the City must release the video to KXII.”