A man who says he lost his job because he was falsely accused of driving erratically toward a patrol officer’s parked car has sued the Leander Police Department, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
William Thomas Nuckols III is seeking damages of $200,000 to $1 million from the department.
He also sued the officer, Carlos Gonzales, the newspaper reported. Gonzales filed a report saying that Nuckols drove toward his parked patrol car on Aug. 24, 2018, narrowly missing it by swerving at the last minute. Nuckols was initially charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a public servant, a first-degree felony, but that charge was dismissed in November.
The lawsuit claims Gonzales made a false report because Nuckols had made a hand gesture toward the officer the previous day while driving past the patrol car parked in a school zone to enforce speed limits.
Nuckols’ lawyer, Daniel Barry, told the newspaper that Nuckols shaped his hand like a gun and yelled “Bang” as he passed Gonzales.
Barry said that videos from the car’s dashboard camera and the body camera worn by Gonzales do not support the officer’s allegations of the near-miss the next day. The suit says that, instead, Gonzales stopped Nuckols as he was turning into his driveway and gave him a ticket for failing to use his turn signal.
Barry said Nuckols found out two days later, while pulled over for a traffic violation in Dallas, that he had been charged with aggravated assault.
Nuckols lost his job as a sales representative and hasn’t been able to find new work following media reports of the incident, the attorney said.
“This is kind of a slander case because it affects somebody’s livelihood,” Barry told the Statesman. “Once something gets out on the web it stays there forever.”
Leander city spokesman Michael Neu told the newspaper the city wouldn’t comment on pending litigation.