Killeen: Settlement reached in student’s excessive force suit

A frame grab from video of the incident recorded by a surveillance camera aboard the bus. (File)
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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A federal judge in Waco on Monday approved a $60,000 settlement in a suit against the City of Killeen, the Killeen Police Department and two police officers in the wake of an excessive force complaint filed by a 15-year-old Gateway High School Student.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske accepted the settlement filed after the student complained he was brutalized, slammed to the ground during an arrest at 2:55 p.m. April 21, 2016, following an altercation between two students on a Killeen Independent School District bus.

The student and his parents will receive $38,525, the balance paid in attorney's fees and expenses, Robert Ranco, of Austin's Komie and Morrow law firm, who represented the family.

The complaint outlines an incident during which Killeen police were summoned to help deal with an altercation on a school bus and when they arrived, two boys were involved in an argument.

The lawsuit named two police officers, Travis Lundt and Stephen Frucella,

Police confronted the victim, dragged him off the bus and eventually threw the boy to the ground and handcuffed him.

The entire event was captured on the bus video camera and that evidence was presented in court.

At one point on the video Frucella wrapped his arms around the boy's back, took him off his feet and body-slammed him to the ground.

"A body slam is never an approved use of force," the complaint says. "It is not a recognized 'takedown' maneuver under any training provided to Officers Lundt and Frucella."

Ranco said the family had asked for an apology from police, but the city responded that there would be none forthcoming.

"We got a flat refusal," Ranco said.

"On behalf of the family they are thankful and relieved that a quick resolution to this matter was accomplished," Ranco said.

"Everybody can close the book on this chapter and move on, and that's a good thing for this young man."