Shortly after Danny Cantu's home was searched by Dallas police officers, he ended up in the hospital with trauma to his face. "Kicked in head," read the notes in his medical records. He had been admitted with septal hematoma -- bruising or bleeding in the nose -- and lacerations on his eyebrow, which doctors repaired with plastic surgery. Sure sounds like there was an ugly arrest.
Yet after that confrontation with officers, which happened back in 2010, police apparently realized they didn't have enough on Cantu to keep him detained. Cantu was never charged with any crime in connection with the search, not even resisting arrest, which perhaps could have explained the injuries. Instead, he just won a $105,000 settlement from the city of Dallas for a lawsuit he filed against the DPD alleging excessive force. The practical lesson here is not to kick people in the head unless you're sure have a really good reason to do it.
Cantu filed a suit related to the arrest back in 2012. In the complaint, he said he was making a sandwich when officers tossed a flash-bang grenade through his window. Then, he claimed, they kicked in the door and ordered him to get on the ground. After he complied, he said the officers kicked and punched him until he was unconscious and lying in his own blood.
The officers did at least have a no-knock search warrant. They said they believed Cantu was trafficking cocaine for drug cartels. And the warrant shows they found some interesting things in the search:
Approximately 0.1 grams cocaine,
1 - pair of nun-chuks,
1- unknown brand. sawed off, 12 gauge shotgun serial #unknown,
1- Samsung cell phone, miscellaneous paperwork, photographs
Not quite cartel status, but 0.1 grams of cocaine is at least more illegal sounding than the miscellaneous paperwork. In court filings, Mark Michaels, the first officer on the scene, responds that Cantu actually ran through his kitchen when asked to show his hands. Michaels followed and then pushed Cantu, he says, in order to get him on the ground. After scanning the scene for other possible threats, "Michaels observed blood on the kitchen floor and learned that Cantu had suffered some injuries in the course of his encounter with the officers, and that Cantu received medical treatment by paramedics and was to receive additional treatment." But Michaels insists that he "was not deliberately indifferent to a serious medical need of Danny Cantu."
The $105,000 settlement was on the Dallas City Council's consent agenda, approved Wednesday without any debate. It comes a week after the Dallas Morning News published a story reporting that the Dallas City Council has approved about $6 million worth in settlements or verdicts related to lawsuits against the police department since 2011.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.