Sammie Anderson says she taught her four sons to trust DeSoto police and to stay out of trouble. They got to know officers based at their schools, and joined the Dallas suburb’s police ride-along program.
One evening in August, her two oldest boys, now in their 20s, got into a heated argument, with one picking up a tool and throwing it in his truck.
Anderson, fearing they might hurt each other, turned to the police.
“It was the worst decision I’ve ever made as a mom,’’ Anderson said.
The dispute was over by the time the DeSoto squad cars swept into their middle-class neighborhood.
But the cops jumped out with weapons drawn, the family and other witnesses told The Dallas Morning News. The police ordered everyone facedown on the ground to be handcuffed, and slammed Anderson to the pavement so hard she sprained her shoulder and ankle. And the officers repeatedly tased her 20-year-old son as he screamed, they said.
That account is now at the center of a brutality complaint that Anderson filed with the DeSoto Police Department against the six officers who responded Aug. 7.
The complaint contends that police falsely arrested two of Anderson’s sons on charges of interfering with officers and a third on suspicion of domestic violence.
The events that night raise questions about why officers stormed into a calm situation despite national police-training guidelines and new Texas mandates that call for cops to defuse tense situations instead of ramping them up.
DeSoto police Chief Joseph Costa said he believes his officers did nothing wrong. His department has declined to release footage recorded at the scene by officers’ dashboard and body cameras, citing ongoing investigations of the family and the incident.
Dallas-area civil rights leaders want an outside investigation of the department.
“The treatment of this family is deeply troubling,’’ said the Rev. Peter Johnson, founder of the Institute for Non-Violence, who has spoken with the family and neighbors. “We’re talking brutality that goes beyond skin pigmentation. It involves a lack of training to de-escalate a crisis, as well as possible intimidation of a family.’’
Costa told The News that the department’s internal affairs office is reviewing Anderson’s complaint. But after examining the camera footage himself, he said he believes his officers followed department policy and training protocols.
The chief acknowledged that dashboard camera footage shows a quiet scene when police pulled up. “There was no physical altercation, no arguing,” he said. “Yes, it was calm.”
Still, he said, his officers needed to “take control’’ because a 911 caller had told the dispatcher that someone at the scene had a sledgehammer. Family members also appeared to resist officers’ orders to be handcuffed, Costa said.
The chief’s message to the family and the public is to “comply now, complain later,’’ he said. “If you comply now, most of the time, we’ll get it resolved without anyone getting hurt.’’
The six officers cited in the complaint — Courie Bryant, Patrick Krekel, Kendall McGill, Ryan Money, Bryan Scott-Lee and Larry Walker — didn’t respond to interview requests.