Austin police officer Eric Copeland is being sued in federal court for the third time for excessive use of force.
The seven year veteran of the force has been named by a man he allegedly made derogatory comments about. The lawsuit also alleges even though the man was handcuffed and in the back of a police car, Copeland ordered him out and tasing him.
Copeland arrived as back up for call in April 2015. A man, Adrian Aguado had been accused of hitting his sister.
In late October 2015, the APD suspended Copeland for 3 months over that call. A memo from Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo about the suspension outlines the events that led to the suspension. The memo says that Aguado complied with officers when they attempted to handcuff him. He was then heard yelling from the back of the police car. Copeland approached him and at some point in the conversation, according to the memo, amongst other things, Copeland asked him if he “used something for mental retardation.”
Copeland admitted he didn't try to de-escalate the situation and that his comments “played a part in Aguado slipping out of his handcuffs” a short time later. At that point. Copeland also admitted, that he gave Aguado “unclear commands” which ultimately resulted in Aguado being tased.
“Someone needs to talk about the training. Someone needs to talk about the respect that needs to come from officers,” says Aguado’s attorney, Bobby Taylor, adding, “And the respect that needs to go to officers, this is an example of the officer not respecting in any way shape or form someone who was already an inmate, a prisoner. That needs to be dealt with.”
A Grand Jury declined to charge Copeland.
Aguado's lawyer, Taylor says that's one of the reasons he filed the suit.
“The majority of these officers are great. The majority of these officers are they are what we need,” Taylor says. “But there are some who need to be punished, re-trained, moved. Why hasn't the District Attorney's office punished this officer? Cause as long as he gets away with it, as long as he is on the force, as long as he carries, a gun, as long as he can say the things he says to people, it's just a matter of time before he kills someone.”
Taylor is also representing Ahmede Bradley's family in a lawsuit against Copeland.
Copeland fatally shot Bradley three times in the chest in 2012, after he said Bradley tried to choke him with a radio cord. A Grand Jury declined to charge Copeland in that case also.
Copeland was also one of the officers sued for excessive force in the 2011 taser arrest of Carlos Chacon. A federal jury awarded Chacon a million dollars in that case. Though they didn't find Copeland liable. As for this lawsuit - the city of Austin is also being named in the suit.
A spokesperson tells us they haven't been served yet.