Man Files Lawsuit Against OHP for Alleged Beating

Tuesday, November 3rd 2009, 9:34 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is once again under attack by a man claiming he suffered alleged abuse at the hands of an OHP trooper.

An attorney for 33-year old Jose Serrano said his client was beaten severely by a highway patrol trooper last November during a routine traffic stop in Clinton.

Several picture of Serrano revealed his injuries from the alleged abuse, and that is now the subject of a lawsuit. The pictures taken three days after his arrest by OHP, showed one of Serrano's eyes was swollen shut, his lip was busted, his teeth were loosened and he was covered in bruises.

"This was just breathtaking. It was just that when you look at him it took your breath away. The amount of injuries to his face and everything else," said Michael Brooks Jimenez, Jose Serrano's attorney.

Dash camera video from that incident showed Serrano driving off after briefly pulling over. Jimenez said Serrano wasn't trying to escape; he just couldn't understand what the trooper was saying because he doesn't speak or understand much English.

"What he thought the officer was saying was get out of here. I believe the officer probably was saying get out of the car, but the client didn't understand that," Jimenez said.

Serrano pulled over once more and then took off again, this time pulling into the driveway of his home. At least one other trooper and Clinton police respond to a call for backup. The arrest happened off camera.

"The officer came up and without saying a word, began to punch my client in the face, and my client says that he was punched in the face about 13 times," Jimenez said.

But according to a probable cause affidavit, Trooper Steven Cornell only admitted to hitting Serrano four times. He said he did that to control Serrano and remove him from the car. He went on to state that Serrano, an illegal immigrant, resisted arrest and would not obey his commands to get out of the car.

Serrano is now suing the Department of Public Safety, which oversees OHP.

NEWS 9's legal analyst Irven Box said his case may have merit.

"Just because someone is not a legal citizen, it doesn't give law enforcement or anyone else the right to violate their rights," Box said.

An OHP spokesman said Cornell did what he needed to do to get the situation under control, and he used the minimum amount of force possible.

Cornell was not suspended or placed on paid administrative leave following the incident.

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