Austin officer suing man for punching him on Sixth Street

Derek Johnson, accused of punching Austin Police Officer Albert "Matt" Arevalo" at Dirty Bill's Bar on Feb. 26, 2015 Austin Police Photo)
Derek Johnson, accused of punching Austin Police Officer Albert "Matt" Arevalo at Dirty Bill's Bar on Feb. 26, 2015 Austin Police Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police officer Albert Matthew Arevalo is suing a man he claims punched him and gave him a concussion inside Dirty Bill’s Bar in the Sixth Street district last year.

The lawsuit claims the defendant, Derek Andrew Johnson, used his “prominent family” as leverage to have the Travis County District Attorney’s office dismiss the criminal charges. However, records show Johnson took a plea agreement and the charges were not dismissed.

We asked Arevalo’s attorney, Kevin Madison, why he didn’t know about the plea agreement. Madison claimed nobody told him.

He said Johnson is from Canada and is trying to get a U.S. work visa. The attorney says Johnson would have faced a felony charge for “assault on a public servant” for the Feb. 26, 2015 incident at 511 Rio Grande St.

Albert Arevelo, Austin police officer suing man who punched him on 6th St. (Courtesy: Arevelo)
Albert Arevalo, Austin police officer suing man who punched him on 6th St. (Courtesy: Arevelo)

According to an arrest affidavit, Arevalo was on duty and in uniform when he helped an employee who was telling Johnson to leave the bar because he was too intoxicated. Arevalo tried to place him under arrest when he refused to leave. Police say Johnson twisted around and punched the officer in the face.

When the officer was able to get the man on the ground, Johnson refused to pull out his arm from underneath his body. Arevalo shocked Johnson twice with a stun gun.

“Once Ofc. Arevalo had Johnson in custody, Johnson began screaming that he was going to kill Ofc. Arevalo and his family,” the affidavit states.

Kevin Madison, Arevalo’s attorney, says the officer was told this past June the case was thrown out. According to the lawsuit, the reason given by the District Attorney’s Office was to avoid causing “Mr. Johnson immigration problems with his work visa.”

Madison says their goal with the lawsuit is to hold the district attorney and defendant accountable and to prove that no one is above the law. KXAN has reached out to the defendant for comment and have not heard back.

In May, Arevalo was reinstated as an officer by an arbitrator, after he was fired for driving while intoxicated in May 2015. 

The arbitrator found that Arevalo should serve a 180-day suspension and receive back pay for any days over the 180-day suspension. “I am happy that Officer Arevalo got this job back,” Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday said at the time. “However, we all need to be reminded that DWI kills people daily. I also understand that we have a very arduous job and sometimes we make mistakes.”

In 2014, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo enacted a stricter, “zero tolerance” policy for officers and support staff who drive drunk. The policy results in a dismissal even if criminal charges are dismissed. 

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