Home Local News Press Release from the Family of Chance Ross Regarding Lawsuit Settlement

Press Release from the Family of Chance Ross Regarding Lawsuit Settlement

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LAWSUIT FOR DEATH OF TONY CHANCE ROSS SETTLED – Homicide due to use of Excessive Force While in Custody

Upon  the two-year  anniversary  of their  son’s death,  Tony  and  Shelley Ross  settled  a lawsuit filed as a result of the death of their son while in custody of the Hopkins County Jail.   On Monday,  March  6, 2017,  a legal  settlement  was  reached  by  the  parents  and Estate  of Tony Chance Ross for $415,000 to be paid by the City of Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, Texas and their respective insurance carriers on behalf of all defendants.   The federal lawsuit was filed as a result of the death of Tony Chance Ross on March  6, 2015 after his arrest by City of Sulphur Springs police officers and while being placed in the Hopkins County Jail.

The Ross family retained experts in the field of police policy and procedures,  use of force (including  Conducted  Electrical  Weapons,  i.e.,  TASER®),  forensic  pathology,  and jail  policy and procedures to review materials provided from various sources, including the Sulphur Springs Police Department  and Hopkins  County Sheriffs Department.   The four experts  reviewed  the Sulphur Springs police car and Hopkins County jail recordings, the involved officer and witness statements, the complete autopsy report, and Tony Chance Ross’  medical records.

Upon review, it became clear upon his arrest Chance Ross was suffering from the effects of either  a mental  health  crisis  and/or the  use  of a drug.   At least  one of the  police  officers recognized  Chance Ross.   The defendant police officers’  description  of Chance Ross’  behavior and conduct was such that upon his arrest,  medical intervention  was mandated and should have been pursued.   Instead, the defendant police officers took him to the Hopkins  County Jail, and missed a critical opportunity to assess his physical and mental condition, and treat him.

At the jail, Hopkins County deputies and jail staff are viewed as having failed to exercise their duties and permitted  the police officers to direct the placement  of Chance Ross into a cell for violent persons.   Upon being placed in the cell with his hands handcuffed behind him, the defendant police officers began to strip him and when he resisted, the officers were joined  by Hopkins County deputies and jail personnel to hold him down while one defendant police officer applied a TASER® against Chance Ross seven times in the span of approximately 66 seconds.

The  repeated  and  almost  continuous  application  of the  TASER®  was  contrary  to  the weapon’s manufacturer’s approved operations manual and training procedures.   The repeated use of the  TASER®  worsened  an already critical  health  situation  and  accelerated  the  onset  of a sudden cardiovascular collapse and the beginning of organ failure.

Chance  Ross  stopped  resisting  his  being  stripped  and  once  the  officers  removed  the handcuffs they exited the cell and left him lying on the floor.  Neither the police officers nor the deputies  or jail personnel  checked his physical  condition  despite  their training  and abandoned Chance Ross in his cell.  It was not until after approximately  17 minutes since leaving him lying on the floor,  that the officers,  not the jail  staff,  looked in and realized  Chance had not moved. An officer banged on his cell door and after not seeing a response, jail  staff was called to open the door.

Based upon all the  information  obtained,  the forensic  pathologist  concluded  that Tony Chance Ross probably died in the jail and while resuscitated, never regained consciousness.

The lawsuit was filed by the Ross family in the hopes of preventing  future incidents  as what happened with their son, Chance.   In the interim since filing the lawsuit in February  2016, Tony and Shelley Ross have not been able to grieve and put this experience behind them as the lawsuit grinded on.

The settlement agreement  with the defendants  was reached  as the Ross’  came to accept that  they  were the  only  ones interested in understanding  what  happened  and possibly  how to prevent it from occurring anew.

The   Civil   Action   number   for  the   lawsuit   is   4:16-cv-00095-ALM-CAN;   and   the abbreviated  style is Shelley Ross, et al. v.  Hopkins  County,  Texas, et al.  This case was filed in the United States District Court, Sherman Division for the Eastern District of Texas.

 

 

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