in Houston, Texas
Corpus Christi police officer accused of making unlawful arrest, using excessive force named ‘officer of the month’
Wednesday, Sep 28, 2011, 12:56PM CST
By Steve Miller
handcuffs

We’re all for accolades given to police officers distinguishing themselves in the line of duty. So when Corpus Christi Police Officer Robert Cunningham was feted for his pursuit and capture of two gun- and knife-wielding robbery suspects this April – he was named Bravo District Officer of the Month in the department’s monthly newsletter - it was certainly a merited citation.

But Cunningham is also accused in a federal lawsuit of making an unlawful arrest, using excessive force and assault and battery of a man stemming from an April 2010 encounter. Cunningham and another officer are accused of entering John Michael Hogan’s apartment illegally while enforcing an order in a child custody dispute.

Cunningham in court claimed that Hogan struck him with a door, giving him a reason to enter the apartment to arrest Hogan for assaulting a police officer.

In a ruling last week, a judge refused to dismiss the charges against the officers. Courthouse News carries a good account of the ruling:
Though the officers arrested Hogan for assault on a peace officer, charges against him were never pursued by the city of Corpus Christi.

(The judge) refused the officers' motion to dismiss the majority of Hogan's claims, holding that the officers had put themselves in harm's way of Hogan's door when they crossed the threshold of his home without a warrant and that there were outstanding issues of fact issues stemming from the varied accounts of the incident. ...
 
She also dismissed the officers' argument that they were entitled to enter Hogan's home to enforce a child custody order, as under Texas law police officers can only act on a request from a prosecutor, or public official, when obtaining the return of a child, which they did not have.
Why would the department give Cunningham an accolade at a time in which he is accused of violating a taxpayer’s Fourth Amendment rights? Certainly Cunningham will have another opportunity to shine in the line of duty. From our perspective, locking up two weapon-brandishing meanies deserves attention. But not when the cloud of a Constitutional infringement hangs over his head.

The department did not respond to an email asking for a comment from Corpus Christi Chief of Police Troy Riggs and from Cunningham. If we hear back, we will update this post.
 
***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of handcuffs by flickr user The.Comedian, used via a Creative Commons license.
Comments
F. Pedraza
Sunday, 11/11/2012 - 10:36PM

Shame on CCPD!

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