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Zachary
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3820
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Today in Houston Texas I feel my rights were violated. I had

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Today in Houston Texas I feel my rights were violated. I had a dispute with my neighbor over some property. They called the police twice and as far as the dispute goes 3 different officers informed myself and my neighbor that it was a civil matter and we would have to take it up with the court. Today my neighbors called their family who came over with a bat and was again talking about the property. I explained to to family that I didn't know them and I would be calling the police because I went in side to gun and I did not want to hurt anyone. When the police arrived I explain the issue and was told that I can not hold their property even though they have mine and also told me that if I did not return their property I would go to jail for theft. I asked about my property and if they would go to jail and he said no. I told him I was prepared to go, he cuffed me and put me in the back seat and threaten me with a felony charge. I explained to him again I was prepared to go, because 3 different officers told me it was a civil matter and not a criminal matter. He got out of the patrol car and called his supervisor and asked her if it was okay if he went on to my property to get what belonged to the neighbor. Long story short, while I was handcuffed and in the patrol car this officer took what he thought belonged to the neighbor and did not charge me with anything. I feel as though if I was in reality in violation of the law, I should have gone to jail, otherwise it was a civil matter and up to the judge to decide. At this point, I personally feel as though I have been kidnapped and robbed by an officer of the law. I called another department and the Sgt. there said I have a valid complaint and that the officer made a mistake. I called his supervisor and he chuckled and said I do not have a valid complaint that this happens all the time. My question is, do I have a valid complaint and what are the proper forms to fill out a complaint in Houston?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.

Zachary D. Norris :

Hi,

Zachary D. Norris :

I am a Texas lawyer and would be happy to talk to you more about your sitaution.

Zachary D. Norris :

Are you there?

Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
Hi

In order to answer your question about a valid claim and how to fill out a complaint, I need more information.

What was the property that you had that supposedly belonged to your neighbors and how did you come about getting possession of it? Do you believe you had a right to possess the property? If so, what do you believe entitled you to possession? Finally, how long had you had possession of the property?

From the sound of it, you do have a valid complaint. However, I need to know more to answer your question completely.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

-Zachary D. Norris
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Are you there?
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
I am here, but I need you to answer my last question, which I will repost below:


What was the property that you had that supposedly belonged to your neighbors and how did you come about getting possession of it? Do you believe you had a right to possess the property? If so, what do you believe entitled you to possession? Finally, how long had you had possession of the property?

From the sound of it, you do have a valid complaint. However, I need to know more to answer your question completely.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My apologies, I didn't know it would cut me off.

The property they had was 2 couches a bed along with a night stand. There were also some other things which were smaller things but, I had a BarBQ grill, which I borrowed from the neighbor and it was here for a little over a month. The reason they had the items they did was because they were having a garage sale and we agreed that they would sell the items for me if any buyers came through. I'm guessing they sold the items, because a week later they were gone. I asked about the items and the female neighbor told me her husband sold the items and used the money for gas. I asked her if she didn't think it was a good idea to inform me of this. Then, I told her don't wory I will talk to the man of the house. When he made it home I asked him about the items and he pulled a knife on me and ran inside and thats when the first police officer showed up.
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your response. This should have been handled as a civil matter and left alone by the police, with the exception of the multiple times that your neighbor brandished a deadly weapon against you. The police should have investigated those actions as an assault, rather than cuffing you, trespassing onto your property and removing the grill. That being said, just because your neighbor wrongfully kept the proceeds from the sale of your property did not justify you holding onto their bbq pit. In fact, you hurt your civil case by taking such actions. In regard to the complaint process, I've attached the form you need to fill out to file a complaint. http://www.houstontx.gov/police/contact/images/swornaffidavit_eng.pdf While the police acted wrongfully, a civil rights violation lawsuit would likely not benefit you monetarily, as there was no identifiable economic damage to you by their wrongful actions and you were not in rightful possession of the neighbors property which was taken from you. However, the police certainly don't have the authority to do what they did, and I encourage you to follow up with the complaint process. Please see the following page for further information on the complaint process: http://www.houstontx.gov/police/contact/iad.htm
Please let me know if you need further information. Best Regards, XXXXX XXXXX Norris
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
From the research I have conducted, the officer involved will not be accountable for any complaint unless the complaint is verified according to the complaint affidavit, how do I go about verifing the complaint?
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
That's right, as you will see on the link to the form I included in my last response, the complaint is in the form of an affidavit, which means you have to sign it with a notary public. You can generally get a notary public at your bank, or you can pay for their services at various areas around town. When the complaint is notarized, it becomes "verified."
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I reread your first answer and I have one more question. The first 3 officers that arrived instructed myself and my neighbor that it was a civil matter and to take it up with the court and to stay off each others property. This is the reason I felt I ws in rightful possesion of the property. It's not for monitary gain but for the power the officer abused. With that noted, do you think my case is still hurt by following the instruction of the other officers?
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
When the officers stated that it was a civil matter, they meant that both you and your neighbor have civil claims against each other. Now that the police gave the bbq pit back to your neighbors, your neighbors no longer have a viable claim against you. However, you still have a civil claim against your neighbors to recover the wrongfully taken proceeds from the sale of your property at their garage sale. This could be something you file against your neighbors in small claims court. You could file a small claims court claim for conversion (for selling your property and not giving you the money) and assault (for brandishing a deadly weapon at you on multiple occassions). This would likely result in a small monetary award from the small claims court.

This stands alone and is really unrelated to your complaint against the police for the abuse of power. There is no doubt your civil rights were violated. The police do not have the authority to simply deprive you of a piece of property in your possession without due process of law (ie, without a court order). They also don't have the right to detain you without proper cause, which they may not have had in your situation. However, as a practical matter, bringing a civil rights claim for these violations is not as easy as you would think. First of all, an attorney is unlikely to represent you for free in this matter because the civil rights violations by the Houston police department did not result in a dramatic physical harm to you, and was not something that would qualify as a gross violation of your civil rights. Further, even if you did file suit, a court would not likely award you much and it would be more of a headache and waste of your time and resources than anything. On the other hand, the complaint process is something that should be initiated. The police officer who did this needs to be reprimanded. This is a process you start by filing the complaint. Then the internal affairs division of the Houston Police will take it from there.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I really appreciate your honesty and prompt answers, but I am a two time Iraq war veteran, I fought for citizens of this country to have the rights that they do. I gave up a lot so people can have these rights. I may be going to hell so people can have these rights and mine were violated and the only reason I should not file a suit is because it would be a waste of resources? Also, I will accept your answer, but do you know of any attorneys that take of cases for military vets?
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
There's a guy named Chris Collings who is an Gulf War 1 vet. You might try him.

I'm not trying to discourage you from filing a civil rights suit. I'm just trying to be realistic with you about the outcome. If you are up to it, then I say go for it. The cops in Houston shouldn't treat you that way.

Good Luck,
Zachary D. Norris
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3820
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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