Federal Magistrate Seals Proceedings and Award Made in Chance Ross Family Case Against City

When the Sulphur Springs City Council meets Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. in Executive Session, one item discussed will focus on pending litigation. In open session the council will discuss and take action on the Executive Session item regarding pending litigation. That litigation is the decision of a Federal Magistrate handed down Monday in Federal Court regarding the case. The council will be presented the findings of the magistrate and the award given to the family of Chance Ross.

The Ross case was presented to the federal court in February 2016. As reported by KSST, the family of Chance Ross was seeking a jury trial in the Sherman Division of the Eastern District Court of Texas. Shelly and Tony Ross seek damages for emotional distress, medical and funeral expenses, plus attorney fees in case number 4:16-cv-00095-ALM-CAN  filed with the court by the David D. Davis Law office of Grand Prairie.

Named in the suit as defendants were the city of Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Brad Horton and officers Adrian Pruitt, Brandon Mayes, and Joe Scott, county deputies Nick Floyd and Paul Fenimore, as well as jailer Jeff Hightower. The suit claimed these officers used excessive force, failed to protect, and inflicted emotional distress.

Ross died Sunday March 8th in Trinity Mother Frances Hospital where he had been transferred from Hopkins County Memorial Hospital where he had been taken for emergency treatment following what seemed to be a cardiac arrest while in custody at Hopkins County Jail. A Tyler Justice of the Peace ordered an autopsy (complete autopsy found here) immediately following his death.

Ross, 34, was arrested early Friday evening March 6 by Sulphur Springs’ police officers who responded to a call on Whitworth Street of a shirtless man acting erratically (video from arrest found here). Prior to being booked into Hopkins County Jail he was placed in the padded violence cell where he remained for 11 minutes before being found face down and unresponsive. Officers were able to find a faint pulse and called EMS. CPR was stared at the jail and his pulse was stronger but he was not breathing on his own when he arrived at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital.

According to police reports, Ross was arrested when officers encountered him and he was said to have balled his fist and charged an officer. The officer tazed Ross but Ross was able to pull the wires out and fled. The officer pursued and a fight ensued. Officers said Ross was difficult to contain and they were forced to taze him more than once. Ross continued to resist even when taken to jail according to Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jay Sanders.

On April 9, Chief Sanders responded to a question asked during the Tuesday April 7th city council meeting. “Why are the three arresting officers still on duty while an investigation of the death of Chance Ross is being conducted?” This was the question asked by Ross’ brother, Chad Ross Tuesday night April 7th during the city council’s regular session. Ross stated that the family had viewed video of his brother being brought into jail without a shirt and having burn marks on his shoulders that seemed to have been the result of his having been tazed. Ross said his brother was handcuffed and escorted by three Sulphur Springs’ officers and that three county officers assisted those officers in stripping his brother of his pants and placing him in a cell. City officers remained on duty following questions regarding the arrest.

Author: Jimmy Rogers

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