The mother of a man who died in police custody five years ago said Thursday she’s anxious to face the officers in court.
An appeals court has ruled Wednesday that the officers are not immune from responsibility in the August 2016 death of Tony Timpa. It allows a civil lawsuit against the officers to resume.
“I look forward to having the trial. I've never had closure. I've just had lies,” Vicki Timpa said.
It took three years for lawyers to win release of police shirt cam video that showed Tony Timpa’s final moments alive at the hands of Dallas officers.
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The man had called 911 asking for help, telling an operator that he had mental health problems and had not taken his medication.
Timpa is on the ground handcuffed in the video. It shows officers restraining him for 14 minutes and insulting Timpa as he lay dying. The officers shove and kick the man but do not provide medical attention.
Officer Dustin Dillard is on top of Timpa in much of the video with officers Danny Vasquez, Raymond Dominguez and Sergeant Kevin Mansell watching.
Before the video was released, Vicki Timpa said she had been told four different stories by police about what happened that night on Mockingbird Lane.
“How many other mothers did they lie to,” she said.
In July 2020, Dallas Federal Court Judge David Godby granted the officers’ motion for summary judgement in the excessive force lawsuit, ruling that they were entitled to qualified immunity.
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that there is reason to believe a jury would consider the treatment Timpa received from one officer to be excessive deadly force and that three more as bystanders could be determined to have failed reasonable effort to stop the excessive force.
The ruling sends the case back to Godby for a jury trial.
Attorney Geoff Henley who represents the Timpa family said law enforcement across the nation should receive a message from the new ruling.
“This panel of the 5th circuit gave a resounding reversal of everything,” Henley said. “Deadly force can only be used against somebody that's threatening deadly force.
Lawyers who represented the officers in the past did not respond to a message Thursday. Henley said prior lawyers are no longer involved and the City of Dallas is providing counsel in the case now. A spokesperson said the City of Dallas declines comment on the pending litigation.
Since Timpa’s death, the City of Dallas has made several changes that are intended to avoid similar situations in the future.
Dallas Police have restated a duty to intervene policy for officers that witness misconduct by others and all officers are receiving bystandership training to provide knowledge on how to intervene.
Dallas created a “Right Care” program for response to mental health calls with a medical professional, a paramedic and police instead of only sending officers. The Right Care program was expanded in the new city budget that took effect in October to provide that response all around the city.
Vicki Timpa said her son did not receive an appropriate response.
“My son didn't hurt them. He had no record. He didn't commit a crime. And they laughed and joked,” she said.
Henley said a substantial verdict for cash damages could be rendered in the case.
“Tony was making more than a quarter-million dollars a year at the trucking logistics firm where he was a logistics broker,” he said.
The court ruling reversed the dismissals of an excessive force claim against Officer Dillard and the claims of bystander liability against Officers Mansell, Vasquez and Dominguez.
It affirmed the lower court dismissal of a claim against Officer Domingo Rivera. Henley said Rivera had left the immediate scene as Timpa was being restrained.
A police spokesman Thursday said Officers Danny Vasquez, Dustin Dillard, Domingo Rivera and Raymond Dominguez are still active members of the department. Sgt. Kevin Mansell retired in August 2019.
The officers were indicted on criminal charges in the case by a Dallas County Grand Jury but Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot dismissed those charged and declined to prosecute the case.