Parties in a federal lawsuit accusing two Killeen police officers of body slamming a teen outside of a school bus in April 2016 have reached settlement terms that will be submitted for court approval March 12.
Attorney Rob Ranco, who is representing the former Gateway High School teen at the center of the suit, said the plaintiffs and defense team had agreed on terms he was not able to disclose. Gateway High is the Killeen school district’s campus for the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program.
“The parties have agreed to terms, and we are asking the judge to approve our agreement,” Ranco said.
Two KPD officers, Travis Lundt and Stephen Frucella, and the city of Killeen are named as defendants in the suit. The defense is represented by lead counsel Roy Lee Barrett, of the Naman Howell Smith & Lee law firm in Waco.
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 student during an arrest at 2:55 p.m. April 21, 2016, following an altercation in the back of a Killeen school district bus.
In footage captured from the driver’s seat of the bus, 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” afte
r 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.
According to documents obtained by the Herald, the teen had been verbally harassed for being gay by another student prior to the arrest.
The teen had no disciplinary record at Gateway and was known for his positive rapport with teachers and staff, Gateway Assistant Principal Gloria Van Exel said in a letter obtained by the Herald.
“He was an extremely caring student who interacted positively with his teachers and classmates at school,” Van Exel wrote. “His behavior at school was outstanding ... (and he) did not receive a disciplinary referral at Gateway High School during the time he attended our school and he had only one bus referral.”
The teen is now enrolled at another KISD high school, Ranco said.
On Jan. 10, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske ordered the appointment of guardian ad litem Andy McSwain, of Waco, to represent the teen in the settlement proceedings. A guardian ad litem in federal suits is court appointed and is tasked with protecting minors’ interests apart from legal counsel or family.