Thursday, June 18, 2009

Judge orders police to turn over "fight club" video clips at Texas institution for civil lawsuit

From The AP:

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A judge ordered police on June 17 to provide an attorney in a civil suit against the state the video clips of staged fights involving residents of the Corpus Christi State School.

Attorney Bob Hilliard said he planned to review 16 video clips to see if Armando Hernandez Jr. or any of his other clients are in the footage. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported that Hernandez wasn't in four clips released earlier of fights at the state school for the mentally and developmentally disabled .

Hilliard has filed a negligence lawsuit against the state Department of Aging and Disability Services, claiming the department failed to protect the residents or properly screen or supervise employees.

Wednesday's order to release the videos instructs police not to release the videos to anyone else. The earlier cell phone videos allegedly taken by an employee of the school were widely distributed and showed disturbing scenes of mentally disabled students fighting each other in bouts that prosecutors say were organized by the employees.

In one of the videos released last month, two of the students at the Corpus Christi State School fight on the ground while a third person kicks them. A male voice can be heard egging on the residents.

Assistant Attorney General John Giberson has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. He said the state has sovereign immunity and cannot be sued. He argued against the release of the videos and said he wanted the identities of those residents in the videos protected.

District Judge Jose Longoria said that attorneys for the defendants in the criminal cases resulting from the fights were given copies of the videos.