Late at night in January 2014, a group of teenage boys walked into the bedroom of a neighbor without being invited, claims a Southlake police report. They asked for a grinder, which, the Southlake PD's report explains, "is commonly used with marijuana." The boys left, and the neighbor called 911. Three officers arrived at the home where the boys were staying.
The father was "very cooperative," says the Southlake police report, but the mother wasn't. When officers began talking to the boys outside, the mother "walked out of the front door and slammed it closed behind her," the report says. Later, as another officer interviewed the boys, the mother "kept interrupting her and tried to answer for the juveniles." Finally, the son admitted he had marijuana and agreed to go get it. After the boy went inside, the mother suddenly became aggressive, the police say, by running up behind an officer and trying to push him to the side. "I advised her to back up and move away from the Officer, she refused and began to swing her arms in a fighting manner," the report says.
The police claim they asked the woman to calm down, and when she refused, they put her in handcuffs and charged her with "interfering with public duties," a misdemeanor.
The mother, attorney Constance Westfall, and husband Monte tell a very different version of what happened that January 10. In a lawsuit Constance recently filed in federal court, she alleges Southlake police officers tackled her to the ground for no apparent reason, crushed her under their weight, injuring her spine. The officers interfered with her treatment for her injuries and ginned up false criminal charges against her to cover themselves.
Southlake PD's report makes no mention of tackling. Several brief audio clips provided to reporters by the Westfalls' attorney, Geoff Henley, however, suggest some sort of intense physical confrontation took place that night. "We’ve been tazing her into the cold," one officer says to another in one of the recordings. "Dude, I felt so bad," the other responds. Later, an officer says, "your whole body was on her," but the other officer denies that happened.
"I was afraid that you were going to really hurt her," the first officer insists later in the recording.
In another short recording provided by the family attorney, the police officers sound as if they are mocking the father on the scene. "We are sitting like there fighting and he came out, the kids are there, the kids crying, and the dad's like this," an officer says. The other officers laugh. "He was just sitting there watching. He was like nothing. I was expecting him to get upset. Or..," and then the tape suddenly cuts off.
In a press conference in their attorney's office Tuesday, Monte Westfall said he initially didn't notice any commotion between his wife and the cops because he was distracted by another officer who questioned him about his son's marijuana use. When the boy went inside to get the marijuana, Monte followed his son inside. By the time he stepped back out, he says, the officers were already sitting on top of his wife.
"It's so out of realm of my reality," he says. "I'm looking right at it, and it isn't processing." Westfall says the experience made him understand why people simply walk by gruesome scenes like murders on the sidewalk without stopping. In the tape his attorney obtained, Westfall believes the police are laughing at him "because I'm so compliant... I'm just used to authority, I respect it," he says.
Police arrested Constance that night. After getting booked, she was treated at the hospital for injuries she says she suffered all over her body, though the police report claims they were minor. Her husband bailed her out the next morning. As for the criminal charges, Constance's record has been cleared. The case was dismissed a year and a half after her arrest. The Westfalls' suit accuses the police department of excessive force, denying her medical treatment and other damages. The full complaint is below:
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