ROUND ROCK — A Florence man died Monday as a result of injuries he allegedly received while being arrested by Round Rock police in March.
William Slade Sullivan, 44, died at Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock from complications nearly five months after his arrest, said Broadus Spivey, the lawyer representing Sullivan in a multimillion-dollar civil suit.
Sullivan became a quadriplegic after multiple officers used “extremely aggressive use of force” during a driving while intoxication arrest March 21, according to the lawsuit.
Spivey filed the federal lawsuit April 21 against the city of Round Rock and the six officers for the large number of injuries Sullivan received.
Three of the police officers, however, were removed from the lawsuit on Aug.11.
While the civil lawsuit does not specify the exact amount of damages, it stated Sullivan’s medical expenses were likely to exceed $10 million.
“I don’t think there’s any question that the injuries resulted in his death. ... (Sullivan) got to where he could talk with a finger over his tracheostomy, but in the last two weeks, he wasn’t able to do more than blink,” Spivey said.
According to court documents, Sullivan was sitting in his car March 21 charging his phone when six Round Rock police officers tried to arrest him.
Sullivan had been drinking at Rick’s Cabaret, a strip club in Round Rock near the intersection of Interstate 35 and State Highway 45, according to the lawsuit.
Sullivan was a longtime “VIP customer,” and employees had taken Sullivan’s keys from him earlier in the evening with the intention of driving him home, but returned the keys so Sullivan could charge his cellphone and call a friend to take him to a nearby hotel, the lawsuit stated.
A Rick’s Cabaret security guard called Round Rock police, alerting them that an intoxicated Sullivan was entering his vehicle, the lawsuit stated.
Disabling back condition
Sullivan’s long-standing and disabling back condition was well known and visible to anyone who looked at him, the lawsuit stated. His handicap placard was displayed on his rearview mirror.
When officers arrived on the scene at 3:37 a.m., they found Sullivan sitting in his car charging his phone. They pulled their weapons and began yelling, “Get out of the car,” the lawsuit said.
Before Sullivan was able to respond, he was forcefully pulled from his vehicle and slammed on the ground, causing injury to his back and spine, which resulted in quadriplegic paralysis, according to the lawsuit.
Unable to speak
Sullivan was not able to speak and was breathing with a ventilator when he was first hospitalized. His lungs also were filling with fluid.
The police report, which was included in the lawsuit, said officers responded to a report of an “intoxicated patron attempting to drive away from the establishment.”
Arresting officer N.J. Zoss obtained two arrest warrants for Sullivan for “interfering with the duties of a public servant and driving while intoxicated” after conducting a field investigation, the report stated.
Williamson County court records show Sullivan was charged with driving while intoxicated in January, according to court documents.
In May, the Round Rock Police Department and the city of Round Rock had taken no disciplinary action against the six officers being sued: Zoss, L.M. Osborn, B.B. Johnson, C.S. Mount, K.A. Mayo and A.P. Ballew.
In August, B.B. Johnson, L.M. Osborn and C.S. Mount were removed from the lawsuit.
The lawsuit did not list the officers’ first names.
Round Rock Public Information Officer Angelique Myers said she could not confirm if any disciplinary action was taken against officers since then and would not comment on the case since it is currently under investigation by the Texas Rangers.
No statement from police
Myers said the police department did not wish to issue any statement about Sullivan’s death.
Spivey said after Sullivan’s death, the legal team would seek additional criminal charges and Sullivan’s mother will now represent his estate.
An autopsy is being performed to determine the exact details of Sullivan’s death, Spivey said.