Houston police officer beat man who wasn’t resisting, lawsuit alleges

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A Houston man said in a lawsuit filed Friday that he was “violently beaten, harassed, taunted, wrongfully arrested and denied medical attention” during a July 2015 encounter with a Houston police officer.

Larry Moore Jr., 33, says the officer used excessive force and violated his constitutional rights after pulling him over for a traffic stop and finding a bag of marijuana. He is seeking compensation from the officer, the police department and the city for his injuries, pain, mental anguish and medical expenses, as well as punitive damages.


The Houston Police Department does not comment on pending litigation, spokeswoman Jodi Silva said. The city attorney’s office and the mayor’s office have not responded to a Chronicle inquiry.

Moore was pulled over about 7:30 p.m. July 7, 2015, while driving with a passenger on Mykawa Road in southeast Houston, according to the lawsuit’s statement of facts. Moore pulled into the parking lot of the Fiesta Mart supermarket at 5600 Mykawa.

Officer Kevin Hubenak said in a sworn statement used to charge Moore he pulled over Moore’s vehicle because it ran a red light and also had a broken taillight.

Moore and his passenger “immediately turned and began looking at officers through the back window while repeatedly shifting their weight around,” Hubenak wrote in the sworn statement. As the officers walked up to the vehicle, “they immediately observed the distinct odor of fresh marijuana emanating from within the vehicle.”

The officer could see into the vehicle as the passenger moved a black trash bag from the center console, according to the sworn statement. Inside that trash bag, the officers later found two clear plastic bags filled with a little more than 2 pounds of marijuana.

Moore and his passenger stepped out of the car when the officers told them to, the lawsuit and the sworn statement both say.

Then the passenger, Michael Brooks, ran away on foot, both documents say. Hubenak’s partner caught and arrested him after a foot chase.

That’s where the accounts diverge.

Hubenak’s sworn statement says Brooks fought with the other officer and ran away after Moore already was handcuffed. It does not discuss any physical contact between Hubenak and Moore.

The lawsuit offers a different account: “After Mr. Brooks ran from the scene, officer Hubenak suddenly and violently body slammed Mr. Moore on his neck, head and face, causing him to go into a brief state of shock, as well as a severe laceration and extreme swelling. Once Mr. Moore regained consciousness, he felt that he had handcuffs on one of his wrists and observed officer Hubenak punching him in the face and body. Officer Hubenak then began kicking Mr. Moore.”

The lawsuit asserts that Hubenak only stopped when bystanders at the Fiesta Mart yelled at the officer to stop hitting Moore.

Then, the account says, Hubenak cuffed Moore’s second wrist and “placed his boot on Mr. Moore (sic) head, so forcefully that it left a dirt boot print in Mr. Moore’s hair.”

The lawsuit says “Mr. Moore was not attempting to evade or resist arrest, or otherwise harm any person.” It includes two photos of Moore’s face identified as taken a few hours later. They appear to show a black eye and swelling.

Moore was placed in the back seat of a patrol car for two hours and “forced to listen as other HPD officers on the scene praised officer Hubenak for the severity of the injuries he caused Mr. Moore,” according to the lawsuit, which asserts that the other officers were “laughing and joking about how hideous his face looked.”

Moore was taken to HPD Central Jail, the lawsuit says, where jail staff refused to admit him due to “blunt facial trauma.” He apparently was not formally arrested. Another officer drove a handcuffed Moore to Ben Taub Hospital.

The hospital’s doctor asked why, if Moore was not under arrest, he was handcuffed, according to the lawsuit.

The criminal cases against Moore and Brooks proceeded, according to court records.

The lawsuit alleges that “Office Hubenak lied and stated that he found the drugs in the center console, although according to Michael Brooks, the owner of the drugs, they were hidden in the back of the truck underneath the passenger seat.”

Moore’s attorney in the lawsuit, Andre Evans, says that Brooks has always admitted ownership and Moore has always denied it.

Court records show, however, that Moore accepted a plea bargain in May 2017. Prosecutors dropped the felony charge of possessing several pounds of marijuana in exchange for Moore pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing several ounces. He was sentenced to two days in jail as well as drug education.

Moore’s lawsuit says he lost his job because of recurrent headaches caused by injuries during the 2015 incident.

In a 2016 court document, Moore wrote that he had a job with a temp agency for three years that ended “a couple days after I was charged.”

He asked for a free public defender, saying he had no income and paid about $350 a month in child support for three children.


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