Excessive force cited in lawsuit against Austin police officer

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin police officer is named in a federal lawsuit that claims excessive use of force.

The suit filed in federal court Monday shows Officer Jason Cummins arrived at a domestic dispute call Aug. 11, 2013. While other officers handled the female caller’s complaint, Cummins focused on the next door neighbor Enemencio Roy Alaniz Jr., who was watching the scene from his doorway.

When the man refused the officer’s command to leave his apartment, the suit alleges Cummins kicked in the screen door and fired his Taser striking Alaniz. Police justified the take-down because Alaniz engaged in ‘empty hand defensive resistance,’ according to the lawsuit. He was arrested and taken to the Travis County jail.

A court judge later dropped a charge against Alaniz of failing to obey a lawful order, according to the suit. An Austin Police spokesperson says the department will not discuss pending litigation.

An appendix attached to the lawsuit lists 46 ‘use of force’ incidents dating back to Oct. 2010 said to involve Cummins. They range from using pressure points or a kick to subdue a suspect to deploying a Taser or pepper spray.

APD policy dictates when an officer uses force on a call they are to report it to a supervisor. The suit’s appendix lists information from each incident including a subject’s initials, the type of force used, if the subject was injured, required a hospital visit and where the subject was transported, such as jail.

To confirm if the number shown in the suit is accurate and to ask if 40 is an unusual number of use of force incidents for a younger officer, KXAN requested the same list from APD as well as Cummins’ personnel file which would show performance reviews and any commendations. City records show Cummins, 28, joined the city payroll Sept. 14, 2009. This year he earned about $83,000 total, superceding his base salary of nearly $70,000.

The suit goes on to allege Cummins was trained by the Austin Police Department and that “the customs and policies allowed…provided for Officer Cummins’ conduct.”

It contends “the City of Austin is responsible for inadequate training and a complete lack of supervision.”

Past Discipline

KXAN also found one disciplinary memo naming Cummins dated July 23, 2012, in which he served one day of suspension for crashing a patrol car on the way to an overnight priority call. The memo shows on March 25, 2012, at 1:25 a.m., Cummins lost control of his vehicle turning from Manor Road onto southbound Ed Bluestein Boulevard. The memo shows the vehicle stuck a road sign and sustained significant hood and undercarriage damage.

No court date has been set for the newly-filed suit, according to federal court records KXAN accessed Tuesday.

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