The family of a teen who accused a Killeen police officer of brutality during an arrest outside of a school bus in April 2016 will receive $38,525 after attorney fees and expenses as part of a settlement agreement approved Monday.
Following a hearing in the U.S. Western District Court in Waco, attorney Rob Ranco of the Austin-based Komie & Morrow law firm, who represented the Killeen teen’s family, said the settlement offered a speedy resolution to the suit.
“On behalf of the family they are thankful and relieved that a quick resolution to this matter was accomplished,” Ranco said. “Everybody can close the book on this chapter and move on, and that’s a good thing for this young man.”
The total payout from the settlement is $60,000, Ranco said.
Two KPD officers, Travis Lundt and Stephen Frucella, and the city of Killeen were named as defendants in the suit.
A complaint filed in the U.S. Western District Court in Waco on Nov. 17 said Lundt and Frucella violated the constitutional rights of the then-15-year-old Gateway High School student during an arrest at 2:55 p.m. April 21, 2016, following an altercation in the back of a Killeen school district bus.
The city of Killeen declined to comment on the settlement because the suit had not been formally closed.
In footage captured from the driver’s seat, officers pulled the teen out of the bus after he appears to lunge at another student off camera. During a brief altercation, Frucella appeared to wrap his arms around the back of the student, pick him up off his feet and take him to the ground.
“A body slam is never an approved use of force,” the lawsuit read. “It is not a recognized ‘takedown’ maneuver under any training provided to Officers Lundt and Frucella.”
Prior to the arrest, the teen appeared to touch Lundt in the chest and raise a pointed finger toward his face.
In Frucella’s incident report, the officer said he “placed (the teen) on the ground” after the teen appeared to swing his right arm at Lundt.
A medical report provided to the Herald said the teen had two abrasions on his body and a split lip following the incident.
Ranco said Monday the city had been asked for a formal apology and admission of guilt as part of the settlement, but the family was told it would not receive one from the plaintiffs.
“We got a flat refusal,” Ranco said. “If the police department isn't able to agree that what was done is wrong, then how do we get better? Maybe they’re taking steps to improve, but we’ll never know.”