Federal civil rights suit targets local county, sheriff, DA
A federal civil rights lawsuit filed Monday in Waco’s U.S. District Court by a former jail inmate seeks actual and punitive damages against Milam County, the sheriff, the district attorney and others.
New York attorney Ty Clevenger filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of John L. Robertson, who claims in the suit he was severely injured, lost a tooth and is now disabled as a result of a physical assault by jail guards.
The lawsuit names Milam County, Milam County Sheriff Dennis Green, District Attorney William Torrey, Chief Deputy Chris White, physician Dr. Stuart J. Yoffe, jail nurse Katrina Douglas and five other deputies or jail guards.
The petition explains in September 2016 Robertson was on probation for an unrelated offense, and he voluntarily disclosed to his probation officer that he had a drug problem and would like to try a state drug treatment program, Clevenger said.
The officer arranged the treatment and had Robertson booked into the Milam County Jail on June 20, 2016 where was supposed to be held for 17 days before transfer for treatment, but Milam County held him more than that without transferring him to the drug program, according to Clevenger.
He was injured during his stay in the jail.
The petition claims one of the jailers threw Robertson to the floor of a cell and put his knees and the full force of his weight onto Robertson’s back, then did that twice more.
A physician at a local hospital later said the injuries were significant, caused paralysis and left Robertson permanently disabled.
The FBI and Texas Rangers have an investigation underway in the incidents, Clevenger said.
Currently Robertson has no charges pending but he remains at Scott and White where he is being treated for compression of his spinal nerve, Clevenger said.
Clevenger said Robertson has no feeling in one of his legs and is unable to use it.
Milam County has refused to pay any of Robertson’s medical costs, but in his letter to Green, the attorney points out that while the county tried to absolve itself from any medical responsibility by releasing Robertson, “It doesn’t work that way,” Clevenger said in his letter.
“Milam County is fully responsible for the cost of Mr. Robertson’s medical treatment,” Clevenger said.
A spokesman for Scott & White would not comment on Robertson’s condition.
Robertson was released from custody at Scott and White where deputies took him for treatment after he was injured in the jail.
Robertson initially was under constant guard, but eventually the deputies “just left,” the lawyer said.