It has been almost seven years since Jermaine Darden passed away after Fort Worth police officers carried out a no-knock drug raid at his home located in Southeast Fort Worth. The untimely death of Darden prompted his family to file a wrongful death and police brutality lawsuit about a year after losing him. The family believes Darden’s death was caused by a heart attack after he was allegedly “choked, shocked, kicked and punched by Fort Worth police officers.”
The family’s lawsuit named two officers, Javier Romero and W. F. Snow as the defendants in the lawsuit.”
Although the family filed their lawsuit shortly after Darden’s death, it wasn’t until almost six years later that their case finally made it to trial. The Star-Telegram reported that the case was initially dismissed by U.S. District Judge John McBryde, who claimed “Darden, who weighed about 340 pounds, “had multiple risk factors for sudden cardiac death and the severity of his cardiac disease alone made him susceptible to sudden cardiac death at any time, with or without physical exertion.”
However, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans made the decision to overturn that ruling, “suggesting that evidence existed that Darden would not have died if the officers had not used a Taser on him and forced him onto his stomach.” The court also stated that several officers had “applied their weight to Darden’s back.” While officers claimed Darden was resisting, the 5th Circuit acknowledged that a video from the incident showed “Darden raising his hands when officers initially entered his home and then he appears to have rolled over onto his face just as the officers instructed him to do so.”
The “5th Circuit court ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, [which ended up] siding with the New Orleans court, and was later sent back to the lower federal court in Fort Worth for trial.”
During the trial, Officer Snow recollected some of what occurred that day, and claimed Darden had been struggling with officers, which may have served as one of the factors in his death. He stated that while officers were working to subdue Darden, they deployed a Taser—twice, and had to place two sets of metal handcuffs on him. Aside from the people inside the home yelling that Darden had asthma, Darden also told Snow he couldn’t breathe. The family’s attorney asked Snow if officers had shocked Darden a second time after he had said he could not breathe and “if [he] agreed that there was a difference between panicking because you cannot breathe and resisting.” Snow replied with a yes to both of those questions.
Snow said that despite Darden telling him he couldn’t breathe, he was “still trying to focus on getting him into custody.”
After both parties had their opportunity to comment on the incident during the trial, a jury deliberated for just under 30 minutes before they came back with a verdict. According to Daryl Washington, who served as the lead attorney representing the Darden family, he “has never seen a jury reach a decision that quickly.” Both officers’ names were cleared in the case as the jury found that no excessive force was used.
The source highlighted that the family’s police brutality attorneys intend on appealing the court’s decision as they believe Darden’s death could have been prevented.