A grand jury indicted a former Houston Cop on a felony assault charge stemming from a 2019 incident where he allegedly assaulted a handcuffed man and threatened to shoot him.
NBC News reports a Harris County grand jury indicted Lucas Vieria on a count of felony aggravated assault by a public servant; a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. On July 7, 2019, Viera stopped 34-year-old Aundre Howard for driving with an expired registration. Off jump, this feels like an instance of a Black man being over-policed, as Howard was handcuffed and put in the squad car even though he complied. They officers searched Howard’s car for weapons and didn’t find any, though Vieria’s attorney said the officers found cannabis in his car.
So obviously the next step was giving him a cavity search. All of this escalation happened over an expired registration, yet they still wonder why we don’t fuck with cops.
Before the officers could begin the search, Howard fled. “He grew frightened of the officers,” Randall Kallinen, Howard’s attorney, said in an interview. “That’s why he took off running.”
Vieria can be heard yelling “shoot his fucking ass! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop!,” in body camera footage of the incident.
From NBC News:
According to the suit, Vieria used his handcuffs like brass knuckles, hitting him at least three times.
The suit says Howard was so terrified, he defecated. It also alleged that Vieria, [Officer Thomas] Serrano and a third officer pulled Howard’s pants down and made fun of him.
According to Vieria’s lawyer, the officer struck Howard in the “shoulder area” three times and once in the head. The account added that Lucas, who sprained his ankle, “probably saved both Howard’s life and possibly that of other motorists.”
Howard was initially charged with evading arrest and possession of more than 4 grams of cocaine, though those charges were later dismissed, Houston Public Media reported.
Howard filed a federal civil lawsuit against Vieria, Serrano, and the city of Houston back in April. A statement released by the Houston Police Department said that Vieria was placed on indefinite suspension on April 16, though KPRC reports that Vieria “is no longer an HPD employee,” and he is currently appealing that decision. It’s unclear whether Serrano is still with the department or faced any disciplinary action.
“We respect the grand jury’s decision,” the department said. “This case is now in the hands of the courts.”