A Houston, Texas man claims he was choked by officers for smiling in his mugshot, and he is following up with a lawsuit against Harris County.
On July 29, 2015, Christopher Johnson was arrested under the suspicion that he was driving while intoxicated on his motorcycle, according to ABC Radio. A lawsuit filed on Wednesday says that the Texas man was choked by two Harris County employees as he tried to smile for his mugshot.
The 38-year-old Texas resident wouldn’t stop smiling as several pictures were taken of him during the booking process. When he was told by a guard to stop smiling, the Texas man replied, “This is how I always take my pictures…I’m going to beat this case. Why wouldn’t I smile?”
According to the lawsuit, things went out of control when the guard replied, “We gon’ to make you stop smiling.”
The guard allegedly brought in another Harris County, Texas, employee and then both individuals choked Johnson for 30 seconds, according to Chron.
A photo included in the lawsuit shows Johnson being choked, still smiling at the camera.
The lawsuit claims the guards and a deputy violated Johnson’s civil rights by choking him. It also claims they deprived him of his right to free speech.
After the Texas man was allegedly choked in order to keep him from smiling, an act which failed, Johnson asked for medical treatment for his sore throat but was told to “sit down and shut up.”
Johnson’s lawsuit is the second lawsuit in two weeks which claims poor treatment during the booking process at the Harris County jail in Texas.
The other lawsuit claims that a man was strip-searched in front of other inmates and also choked during a mugshot. That person, Michael Alaniz, said, “The way he grabbed my throat, I felt he was really trying to hurt me. He wasn’t trying to calm me down or get me to pipe down. He easily could have said verbally, ‘shut up’ or ‘be quiet.’ … It didn’t have to get to (the) point he started choking me.”
The lawsuit in the case of Mr. Johnson explains how the situation left Johnson after he claims he was choked during his mugshot in Harris County, Texas.
“Mr. Johnson states that he has recurring nightmares and sporadic feelings of rage due to the treatment he endured while being processed into the Harris County jail.”
In a statement, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office does not recognize that anything inappropriate occurred during the booking procedure for the Texas man, who has had four other run-ins with Harris County authorities.
“It is not uncommon for detention personnel to assist impaired or uncooperative detainees while taking booking photographs. An initial review of the photograph in question appears to be consistent with proper procedures for assisting an impaired detainee in order to obtain a photograph,” the statement reads.
The statement went on to say that the sheriff’s office believes all proper procedures were followed during the Texas man’s booking, but if any evidence comes up to prove otherwise, the “proper administrative actions will be taken.” However, it was believed by the sheriff’s office that the evidence shows that Johnson’s accusation “does not hold merit.”
Andre Evans, Johnson’s attorney, says that Johnson’s driving while intoxicated charge is still pending and the smiling man is planning on pleading not guilty.
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