A Texas High School student who alleges he has permanently lost vision in his left eye because of excessive force by police pleaded guilty to felony theft of a firearm last month in Bowie County.
DaQuan Queashad Huey, 17, is identified only by his initials in a federal lawsuit stemming from the alleged excessive force incident Jan. 27. His lawyer, Philadelphia-based Lee Merritt, issued a press statement releasing Huey's name Tuesday, the same day he held a press conference in Texarkana concerning Huey's claim of excessive force.
In Texas, persons accused of criminal conduct are treated as adults at 17, the age Huey reached last September. Court records show Huey was arrested in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 10, by Texarkana, Texas, police for theft of a firearm. Huey was the front-seat passenger in a silver Dodge Ram 1500 when it was pulled over at 2:15 a.m. for a nonmoving violation near the intersection of Nichols Drive and Cedar Hill Road, according to a probable-cause affidavit used to create the following account.
As Texarkana, Texas, Police Officer Ben Thomes approached the truck in his cruiser, he noticed Huey leaning forward and moving something around inside the cab. When the pickup came to a stop in front of a house in the 2300 block of Cedar Hill, officers determined there were three people inside.
The driver and back-seat passengers, ages 21 and 18, were identified by their driver's licenses while Huey "was recognized by officers from previous encounters," the affidavit states.
When Thomes went to his patrol car to run the names of the truck's occupants, the back-seat passenger got out of the pickup and ran. According to court records in Miller County, Ark., the driver had warrants for residential burglary and theft of a firearm at the time. The back passenger pleaded guilty in December and was sentenced to a five-year prison term with 10 years suspended imposition of sentence to follow.
The driver who fled had outstanding warrants at the time. Court records in Miller County show the driver has pending felony charges of breaking and entering and theft of a firearm.
During the traffic stop, Huey was asked if he had any weapons.
"He looked down at his pants and paused for a moment before stating that he did not," the affidavit states.
Thomes had Huey step out of the vehicle and prevented him from putting his hands in his pockets. After determining that Huey had several warrants stemming from citations issued to him while he was still under the age of 17 and considered a juvenile, Thomes frisked Huey and found two pistols.
A Springfield .40-caliber pistol was removed from Huey's pants, as was a .40-caliber Glock pistol, which had been reported stolen by a retired Texarkana, Texas, police detective. The Springfield pistol was loaded with 12 rounds, while the Glock was loaded with 15 hollow-point bullets.
Huey was taken into custody on the existing juvenile warrants and for the stolen handgun. Court records show Huey spent about five nights in the Bowie County jail before being released on a $10,000 bond Oct. 15.
Huey pleaded guilty to theft of a firearm with the help of a Bowie County public defender at a hearing Jan. 25, just a couple of days before he suffered the injury to his eye. At the hearing, 5th District Judge Bill Miller ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled the case for a sentencing hearing in late February.
Pre-sentence investigations are typically ordered when the state is recommending a term of probation in lieu of incarceration. Theft of a firearm is a felony punishable by six months to two years in a state jail. Miller has the option of sentencing Huey to time behind bars, sentencing him to a standard term of probation or sentencing him to a term of deferred adjudication probation. Should Huey receive a deferred adjudication, he will not have a final felony conviction on his record if he successfully completes probation.
When contacted Friday, Merritt did not have a comment on his client's felony charge.
At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Merritt described Huey as a "peacemaker" who had taken a baseball bat away from someone else in an effort to defuse a violent confrontation Jan. 27.
Merritt told reporters that charges of disorderly conduct, fighting in public and resisting arrest levied against Huey by Texarkana, Texas, police after the Jan. 27 incident are an effort to discredit Huey and "make the victim the culprit."
Huey says his left eye was injured when a Texarkana, Texas, officer allegedly fired a JPX pepper spray gun, fracturing bones around his eye. Huey said at the press conference that about 20 people were gathered in the street when police arrived, while the police statement estimates the crowd at 80.
The police statement alleges Huey was holding a baseball bat and exchanging punches with a woman when a police officer grabbed him around his chest and attempted to pull him away with one hand while pointing the pepper spray gun at the woman. The police version alleges Huey turned toward the officer "and began to come at him in an apparent effort to attack the officer," while Huey alleges he was shot with the full force of the pepper spray gun in his left eye when he simply turned to see who was grabbing him from behind.
The police account also states that witnesses reported Huey was struck with the ball bat shortly before uniformed officers arrived in response to numerous disturbance calls in the area of Brookwood Street and Belt Road.
Merritt has called for an investigation into the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department by an outside agency, such as the Texas Rangers, and is asking that the charges filed in connection with the Jan. 27 disturbance against Huey be dismissed. Merritt said at the press conference that he represents Huey along with Dallas lawyer Daryl Washington. Washington filed a federal lawsuit Feb. 3 in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas on behalf of Huey and his mother, Miracle Farr, against the city of Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Texas, Police Officer Scott Lillis.
The suit accuses the defendants of violating Huey's right to be free from the use of excessive force as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. While the suit alleges Lillis is the officer who deployed the pepper spray gun, Merritt said he can't be certain until he receives confirmation from the police department. Both Lillis and the city were served Feb. 11 with copies of the federal complaint and their responses are due later this month. The civil case is pending before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III and U.S. Magistrate Judge Caroline Craven.