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Galveston police investigate claim of officer violence
Handcuffed man beaten, daughter of developer says

Houston Chronicle | June 15, 2005
By THAYER EVANS

GALVESTON - The Galveston Police Department is investigating an accusation that two Galveston police officers beat a handcuffed homeless man, an incident the daughter of a prominent developer said she witnessed.

Patrick James Woods, according to his attorney, Anthony Griffin, was arrested May 8 by Galveston police near Avenue K and 30th on a charge of resisting arrest.

In a signed affidavit, Sheridan Lorenz, daughter of developer George Mitchell, said she was in her car when she witnessed the Galveston police officers beating Woods as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

"I began to flash my light to show the officers that someone was watching their activity — their activity continued (kicking and striking the black male lying on the curb)," said Lorenz in the affidavit.

Lorenz stopped her car and with at least four others said she watched as Woods was kicked at least 15 times by the officers before a police officer told her to leave, which she refused to do.

"I remained at the location watching, and at no time did the black male, who I have learned was Patrick James Woods, resist arrest," said Lorenz in the affidavit.

Lorenz contacted Galveston Police Chief Kenneth Mack the next day.

Different accounts

Woods, who Griffin says has been arrested several times for a variety of offenses including public intoxication and marijuana possession, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest. Since then, Lorenz has hired Griffin to represent Woods, and last week, a county judge ordered a new trial for him in August.

Griffin said he thinks his client is innocent. "I can imagine the officers saying that (they) stopped him, he resisted arrest, (they) used force reasonably," he said.

In a written statement Monday, Mack said a preliminary investigation into the arrest of Woods "did not reveal any actions by the officers that caused me any concern."

The statement also indicated that Mack talked with Lorenz about the incident, but said the "beating as described is inconsistent with the injuries documented in the photographic evidence taken immediately after Mr. (Woods)' arrest."

When asked Tuesday if either of the officers involved in Woods' arrest had been suspended, Mack referred to the written statement he made Monday because of what he called an ongoing investigation in connection to the incident.

Unexpected help

Griffin said the incident with Woods, whom he described as a homeless person with a drug problem, started when two Galveston police officers approached him as he was leaving an alley. He said Woods stopped for the officers and that several witnesses did not see him resist arrest as police allege.

"When I went to the jail and told him what was going on, he just kept repeating over and over and over again, 'white woman in a BMW, white woman in a BMW,' " Griffin said. "It was like Miracle on 34th Street — he's not used to people standing up and saying, 'We're willing to help you.' "

Lorenz was out of town Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for the Mitchell family, but released a brief statement about the incident.

"I witnessed a brutal beating of a man in handcuffs by two Galveston police officers," she said in the statement. "I felt that I could not walk away from this and ignore that it happened — The man's rights had clearly been violated. I'm hopeful that Chief Mack will do his very best to get all of the details about this man's arrest and his subsequent treatment."

 

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