WAXAHACHIE, TX, August 5, 2020 — Attorneys with Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) filed a motion to dismiss a client's federal lawsuit against the Ellis County Sheriff after the Sheriff agreed to new training requirements, policies, and certifications so that deputies can better identify, interact with, and accommodate people who have disabilities. The lawsuit was filed in 2019 on behalf of Ruben Solis, an elderly man with Huntington's disease, in the United States District Court for the Northern District, Dallas Division, alleging police brutality and discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Sheriff’s deputies beat Mr. Solis and falsely charged him with public intoxication after he called for assistance.
“We are dismissing this case today because this agreement makes everybody safer: Mr. Solis, every person with a disability in Ellis County, and every Sheriff’s deputy on the streets,” said Wayne Krause Yang, one of Mr. Solis’s lawyers. “More than 100 deputies will be trained as a result of the settlement. Approximately 30,000 people who have disabilities live in Ellis County and will benefit. It is fitting that this big victory happens shortly after the anniversary of the ADA.”
"[T]he Ellis County Sheriff agreed to do the right thing and this is going to make a difference."
“I am proud that I stood up for my rights and Ellis County is going to be a better place because of this agreement, especially for people like me who have a disability,” said Ruben Solis, the plaintiff in the case. “It is not easy having a disability. Police need to understand people who have disabilities and treat them with respect. While I wish this hadn’t happened to me and it took a long time, the Ellis County Sheriff agreed to do the right thing and this is going to make a difference.”
“The Ellis County Sheriff agreed to improve its policing in so many ways,” TLSC attorney Ann Maldonado Heaps said. “All of its deputies will receive an in-depth training on interacting with and accommodating people who have disabilities. Separately, they will all receive training on de-escalation and limiting the use of force as well. The Sheriff is also adopting and implementing a detailed new policy on interacting with people who have disabilities. In addition, at least 25 of the deputies will be fully trained and certified Mental Health Officers next year. Prior to this suit, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office did not have any training or policies for interacting with people who have disabilities, nor were any of its deputies Mental Health Officers.”
About Texas Legal Services Center
Texas Legal Services Center is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide high-quality legal representation, advice, advocacy, and education at no cost to underserved people across the state. With more than a dozen practice areas, our work touches almost every aspect of civil law that impacts low-income Texans.
Meghan Lee, Communications
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