Third Court of Appeals Allows Case Against Sheriff To Proceed

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Criminal Justice, Had Enough Yet?, Williamson County at 5:59 pm by wcnews

A former Williamson County resident is one step closer to receiving her day in court. Sheryl Hayes-Pupko’s case alleges that Williamson County Sheriff’s Officer Derrick Dutton violated her federal Constitutional rights and used excessive force in a 2002 incident in which Hayes-Pupko was arrested. Dutton’s attorneys filed a motion asking District Judge Ken Anderson to throw out the case, but Anderson denied the motion and Dutton appealed the ruling. In an August 7, 2008 opinion by the Third Court of Appeals, Anderson’s ruling was affirmed, and now Hayes-Pupko’s case can proceed.

Hayes-Pupko, “..asserted that in 2002, Dutton wrongfully arrested her, using excessive force and causing her severe bodily injury in the process”.

In the case’s factual allegations, both sides agree that Dutton responded to a complaint made by Hayes-Pupko’s neighbors, “..who alleged she had sprayed them with water while they were in their yard”. She denied spraying the neighbors on purpose. Dutton then asked for her name and birth date and Hayes-Pupko refused. That’s when things start to happen. Dutton’s side form the opinion:

Dutton testified that at the time, he believed Hayes-Pupko was required by law to tell him her birth date, although he admits that he now realizes that she did not violate any laws by refusing to do so. Dutton said he told Hayes-Pupko that she could be arrested for failure to identify herself, at which point she began to walk away.

Hayes-Pupko’s side from the opinion:

Hayes-Pupko described a very different version of events and testified that Dutton acted irritated with having been called out to address the neighbors’ spat and “very forcefully” asked for her name. She said she asked why he needed her name, and he “jumped” at her and demanded her name and birth date. She started to ask him why he needed her birth date, and Dutton “lunged at her,” grabbed her arm, and twisted it “as hard as he could” behind her back.

Dutton admits Hayes-Pupko “…had not committed the offense of failure to identify”. Failure to identify is only a crime once a person has been arrested, not cause for an arrest. Lacking cause, Dutton’s actions are not protected by the qualified immunity afforded police officers. The lower court is now allowed to examine the question of whether Dutton broke any laws, used excessive force or violated Hayes-Pupko’s constitutional rights. From the opinion:

Considering the facts as alleged by Hayes-Pupko, she was being questioned about a minor incident, posed no risk of danger to Dutton or anyone else, and was not attempting to flee or resist arrest when he grabbed her arm and threw her against her car. See id. at 501. Thus, we hold that there is evidence that Hayes-Pupko suffered substantial injuries as a direct and sole result of Dutton’s use of force “excessive to the need and objectively unreasonable under the circumstances.” See id. Hayes-Pupko satisfied the first prong of the inquiry.

Here are the injuries she suffered, again from the opinion:

After she was released, she sought medical attention for bruises on her arms and knees, spasms in her left arm, and a fractured right wrist. She testified that Dutton bruised her arm when he grabbed her, that her knees were bruised from being thrown against her car and being forced into the patrol car, and that she still has knee problems due to Dutton’s forcing her into the car.

The wheels of justice turn very slowly indeed. The incident occurred in December 2002. Derrick Dutton remains employed by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office.


  1. FedUp said,

    August 15, 2008 at 11:20 am

    “Standard Operating Procedure” with THIS Wilco Sheriff’s “Little Hitler” and his small group of Nazis.

  2. jw2272 said,

    October 15, 2008 at 10:52 am

    I respect law enforcement and believe they are needed to maintain civil order. But at the same time; I believe too many like this sheriff are abusing the system and depriving citizens of their constitutional rights. This sheriff should have been educated in law at the police academy or where he received his training from so that incidents like this don’t happen. Also all law enforcement officers should be mature enough not to take his/her bad day out on an individual. If one of them is having a bad day (We all have bad days); he/she should be given the day off. If I had injured some innocent lady like the one mentioned above; I would be facing criminal charges and a civil lawsuit to pay for damages. I would probably get jail time and so on. I believe this sheriff should be held accountable for his actions and to preent this from occurring again in the future. Having your rights violated like the lady mentioed above is unexcusable.

  3. Eye on Williamson » Updates on County Sheriff involved cases heading to trial said,

    April 6, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    […] WCSO, is set for September 21, 2009. Here’s EOW’s previous reporting on that case, Third Court of Appeals Allows Case Against Sheriff To Proceed, which has now dragged on for more than 6 […]

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