Fired police officer sues City of Austin over information requests

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A former Austin Police officer who was fired in October 2014 for not following orders, and whose earlier disciplinary suspension was overturned, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and City Manager Marc Ott. Among other allegations related to release of information, Jermaine Hopkins contends city attorneys withheld information related to use-of-force incidents he was involved in after he submitted a public records request in August 2013 under the Texas Public Information Act.

“Without seeking a Texas Attorney General ruling allowing it to withhold the information…the city took it upon itself…to withhold the information,” the suit contends. Hopkins is listed on the record as having filed the suit in Travis County District Court himself without an outside attorney.

Hopkins was indefinitely suspended in late October 2014 for ‘harassing’ conduct related to multiple public information requests he made.

He was initially suspended in November 2013 for eight days for improperly arresting a woman in an incident the previous May. In late December 2014, an arbitrator overturned that suspension stating nothing Hopkins did rose to the level of neglect of duty or failure to know and comply. The arbitrator ruled Hopkins be compensated for his time off the job related to the suspension, but that did not change his fired status, which he is also appealing.

This past January, Hopkins won a symbolic victory when Austin’s Ethics Commission ruled Police Chief Art Acevedo violated rules when he did not file a 2012 personal financial report in a timely manner. The issue was brought to the city by Hopkins who said he only wanted to hold the chief accountable, not retaliate for his firing.

The Austin Police Department does not comment on pending lawsuits.

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