A former sheriff’s deputy sued in federal court over shooting a man attempting to escape has requested the civil trial be heard by a jury, according to court papers filed last week.
Dennis Benson in August sued Galveston County, the sheriff’s office and former deputy Edward Benavidez for more than $1 million in the July 2019 shooting.
In the lawsuit filed in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Benson, who was shot in the parking lot of the University of Texas Medical Branch, accused Benavidez of using unnecessary force and causing serious bodily injury.
Benavidez shot Benson after Benson attempted to escape custody.
Benson had been arrested on drug possession charges. After turning himself in for a warrant, Benson told deputies during booking that he had swallowed a bag of the drug ecstasy. He was taken to the medical branch emergency room for treatment, according to the lawsuit.
Benavidez was one of the deputies watching Benson while he was in the hospital. According to Benson’s claim, while the two were walking down a hallway, Benson performed a “football move” on Benavidez and ran out of the building.
Benavidez chased Benson, who was still shackled, and fired two shots, according to court records.
One of the shots was accidental, according to court documents. In his own response to Benson’s lawsuit, Benavidez admitted to accidentally firing his weapon as Benson was exiting the hospital.
Benavidez said in his response that he no longer works for the sheriff’s office.
He then intentionally shot Benson to prevent him from escaping, according to the lawsuit. The shot hit Benson in the leg and ultimately caused him to have two toes amputated, according to the lawsuit.
Benson, who in 2020 was convicted on charges of escape while arrested and possession of a controlled substance, said he was on the ground when he was shot, having just tripped over a concrete barrier.
Benson’s lawsuit also accuses the sheriff’s office of not properly training or preparing deputies for how to deal with people who are trying to escape custody.
Benavidez filed a response to the complaint last week and asked for the lawsuit to be sent to a jury to be decided.
In its own response, the county asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, saying in part that the county was immune to being sued.