Troy Causey Jr. federal lawsuit against DISD and Dallas County Juvenile Department

Download Troy Causey Jr. federal lawsuit against DISD and Dallas County Juvenile Department

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Tammy Simpson, the mother of slain Dallas basketball standout Troy Causey Jr., has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Dallas ISD and the Dallas County juvenile department alleging improper athletic recruiting led to her son's death one year ago, March 24, 2014.

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    UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS

    DALLAS DIVISION

    THE ESTATE OF TROY CAUSEY, JR, BY AND THROUGH HIS MOTHER, TAMMY SIMPSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF HIS HEIRS

    Plaintiffs, v.

    MIKE MILES, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; TERRY S. SMITH IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DALLAS COUNTY JUVENILE DEPARTMENT; TERRY S. SMITH IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF JUVENILE PROBATION OFFICER FOR DALLAS COUNTY;

    Defendants.

    Civil Action No.

    3:15-cv-914 Jury Trial Requested

    COMPLAINT

    Plaintiff THE ESTATE OF TROY CAUSEY, JR, BY AND THROUGH

    HIS MOTHER, TAMMY SIMPSON, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF

    HIS HEIRS (herein Causey or Plaintiff), by and through undersigned counsel,

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    makes this his Complaint against Defendants, MIKE MILES, IN HIS OFFICIAL

    CAPACITY AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DALLAS INDEPENDENT

    SCHOOL DISTRICT; TERRY S. SMITH IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS

    EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DALLAS COUNTY JUVENILE

    DEPARTMENT; TERRY S. SMITH IN HER OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS CHIEF

    JUVENILE PROBATION OFFICER FOR DALLAS COUNTY and allege as

    follows:

    JURISDICTION AND VENUE

    1. This Court has jurisdiction over the federal claims of the Plaintiffs in this

    action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1331, 1343 because the subject matter of

    Plaintiffs claims are premised on violations of 42 USC 1983 and 1988.

    2. Venue is proper in this Court pursuant to 28 USC 1391(2) as all material

    facts out of which this suit arises occurred within the Northern District of

    Texas, Dallas Division.

    PARTIES

    3. Causey, when alive, was a citizen of the State of Texas and was at all

    pertinent times within the confines of the Dallas County Juvenile

    Department and a resident of Dallas County Youth Village and/or a student

    in the Dallas Independent School District.

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    4. His mother and natural heir is Tammy Simpson. She too is a citizen of the

    State of Texas and brings this Compliant individually and as heir and

    representative of the Estate of Troy Causey, Jr.

    5. Defendant Mike Miles is sued in his official capacity as Superintendent of

    the Dallas Independent School District (DISD or the District) which at

    all times was responsible for the implementation of relevant federal and state

    law, UIL rules, the care, management and control of all public school

    business within its jurisdiction as to students like Causey, the training of

    staff and coaches, the enforcement of policies and procedures and to both

    train and supervise staff to prevent harm to students and illegal recruiting

    practices of student athletes.

    6. Defendant Terry S. Smith is sued in her official capacity as Executive

    Director of the Dallas County Juvenile Department which at all times was

    responsible to the implementation and enforcement of all public business

    within its jurisdiction as to juvenile residents of its facilities like Causey, the

    training of staff, the enforcement of policies and procedures and to both

    train and supervise staff to prevent harm to residents and participants in the

    juvenile probation program and to prevent the illegal contact of residents for

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    any purposes including but not limited to sports recruiting from among its

    probationers by personnel of DISD.

    7. Defendant Terry S. Smith is sued in her official capacity as Chief Juvenile

    Probation Officer for Dallas County which at all times was responsible to

    the implementation and enforcement of all public business within its

    jurisdiction as to juvenile residents of its facilities like Causey, the training

    of staff, the enforcement of policies and procedures and to both train and

    supervise staff to prevent harm to residents and participants in the juvenile

    probation program and to prevent the illegal contact of residents for any

    purposes including but not limited to sports recruiting from among its

    probationers by personnel of DISD.

    HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL BACKGROUND OF RECRUITMENT

    8. Many school districts throughout the United States have engaged in the

    practice or recruiting students from outside their territorial districts to play

    sports as varied as football, baseball, track, and many others, including but

    not limited to basketball.

    9. DISD for many years has likewise had a dismal record of engaging in the

    practice of recruitment of students from outside the confines of the DISD to

    play sports within DISD schools.

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    10. For the purpose of example only, South Oak Cliff High School in DISD

    forfeited its 2005 and 2006 basketball titles for having an ineligibly recruited

    player.

    11. For further example only, Kimball High School in DISD improperly

    recruited a star basketball player and with that player won the state

    championship in 2011.

    12. In 2012, a DISD investigation found a concerted attempt by coaches and

    administrators to recruit players from both within and without DISD without

    regard to the schools to which those students were properly zoned.

    13. The stakes for the DISD sports programs could not have been higher.

    Coaches and administrators are professionally scrutinized based upon their

    successes on the playing fields and the court. Students are treated as

    property good not for the content of their character, but for the success

    they can produce in athletic endeavors.

    14. Approvals for the transfer of students were made by a committee at DISD

    that votes for approval as a matter of course because to vote against a

    transfer would be a vote against ones peers and would be an act against

    ones own possible self-interest in future committee votes on eligibility.

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    This resulted in a policy and practice where anomalies and clear deviations

    on UIL and other rules and regulations were routinely disregarded.

    15. The Dallas County Juvenile Department and Dallas County (jointly, the

    Department) operate facilities for juveniles who are part of the juvenile

    justice system and monitor probation for youth participants in the juvenile

    justice system. As part of that, they operate the Dallas County Youth

    Village, a residential placement facility to which young men are sent by the

    juvenile courts in Dallas County for rehabilitation, instruction and training.

    The Department also undertakes to train all of its employees and officers,

    but has wholly failed to properly train and supervise them.

    16. The Department has written policies that state that participants have

    restricted access to the outside world. Youth mail is monitored, visits are

    restricted to counsel and family members and phone calls are similarly

    restricted. However, it has been the long-time practice, and therefore the

    actual policy of the Department, to allow DISD personnel to visit with

    otherwise incarcerated youth for the purpose of sports recruiting.

    FACTS REGARDING TROY CAUSEY, JR.

    17. In 2013, Causey entered the custody of the Department and was placed at

    the Dallas County Youth Village through April of 2013.

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    18. While there and in the custody of the Department, Causey was visited by

    staff members of the DISD, including the head coach of the DISD Wilmer-

    Hutchins basketball team, John Burley.

    19. Burley and DISD had unadulterated and unsupervised access to Causey

    within the Department and Causeys private juvenile records in the custody

    of the Department.

    20. Burley recruited Causey to play basketball in the DISD while he was in

    Department custody and obtained private and confidential juvenile records

    of Causey not publically accessible.

    21. Causey was not a resident within DISD, but was a resident of the Richardson

    School District and was zoned to Richardson High School.

    22. While within the confines of the Department, Burley and DISD set up a

    residence within DISD to which Causey would be released from the custody

    of the Department. Before his release from the Department, DISD caused

    Causey to be registered to attend Wilmer-Hutchins High School in DISD so

    he could play sports there despite his lack of residence.

    23. Upon information and belief, Jonathan Tramaine Turner, also was recruited

    by DISD staff members from the Department while in Department custody

    to play basketball for another DISD team Madison High School.

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    24. Both Causey and Turner were placed in the same residence within DISD by

    DISD staff members so that they could play basketball at DISD schools.

    25. DISD and the Department were consciously indifferent to the risk and

    threats of placing unsupervised non-mature student athletes in homes just so

    they would be in DISD and therefore eligible to participate in DISD athletics

    programs. However, this had been the pattern and policy of DISD for many

    years.

    26. Upon information and belief, upwards of 13 such DISD recruiting

    placements had occurred at properties owned by the same owner of the

    residence where Causey and Turner had been placed.

    27. Causeys paperwork at DISD was falsified to allow the transfer and was

    made without parental approval. This was the custom and the practice

    involved in this illegal policy of DISD recruitment.

    28. There was a complete lack of training as to policy and a complete lack of

    enforcement and oversight at both DISD and the Department.

    29. For example, Anita Connally, the director of enforcement of DISDs stated

    non-recruitment policies, brought irregularities to the attention of DISD

    supervisory personnel but was overruled in favor of the more prevalent

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    DISD policy of allowing this illegal and improper recruitment, regardless of

    the risks.

    30. In these matters, DISD and the Department acted in concert and coordinated

    action. DISD knew and understood full well that access to potential

    recruiting targets incarcerated within the Department resulted in juveniles

    minors being transferred between homes and schools. Potential athletes

    who were outside of parental control and supervision in the Department

    were identified by DISD and through intimidation and both positive and

    negative influence were cajoled and manipulated into agreeing to play in

    DISD schools. These student athletes within the Department (as well as

    generally) are immature minors, seek validation and crave approval from

    coaches and others in their peer groups and seek opportunity to grow into the

    athletes they see on television and in video games. The Department and

    DISD coaches have acted to manipulate these young athletes as a concerted

    policy and custom with conscious indifference to the welfare of the young

    men and women, such as Causey that are the victims. Students who are

    subject to the power of intimidation and pressure of recruitment by DISD

    and Department personnel as well as the perceived ego-boost and perceived

    opportunity of the ability to play for a team or teams that were being

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    specially assembled with select players who were tough, seasoned and had

    the experience of the juvenile incarceration and probation that provides

    unfettered access to these willing young athletes, such as Causey.

    31. Causey was placed in the home with Turner.

    32. The Department and DISD engaged in a concerted action in all matters

    involved with Causey.

    33. On March 24, 2014, Turner and Causey got in an argument in the home in

    which they had been placed without adequate supervision.

    34. Turner physically accosted Causey such that he was on the ground. Turner

    then hit and kicked Causey about the head until his skull was crushed.

    Causey suffered severe brain damage from the beating and after

    extraordinary attempts to save his life, was declared dead on March 24,

    2014.

    35. Following on the death of Causey, Anita Connally, the then athletic

    compliance officer of DISD immediately began to investigate the matter of

    Causeys recruitment after hearing that the documents presented to her by

    other DISD personnel, including head coach John Burley, may have been

    falsified. Connally knew that the practice of recruiting at DISD was

    endemic. For her efforts in trying to bring the matter of the policies and

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    conscious indifference of recruiting at DISD into public view and to cause

    them to stop she was terminated from her job at DISD. Connally is fully

    aware, and while a DISD official was deeply suspicious and concerned, that

    DISD had a policy of an active dismissal of recruiting rules that put student

    athletes in jeopardy.

    36. Also following on the death of Causey, the DISD top investigator, Jeremy

    Libbe, began an investigation into the death of Causey and the DISD

    recruiting that had led to the death. Libbes clear conclusion was that it was

    the policy of DISD to recruit and to allow improper recruiting and that led

    to the death of Causey. Within weeks of the conclusion of Libbes

    investigation, Libbe was fired by DISD.

    37. DISD and the Department acted in concert with each other in the

    incarceration and intimidation of young athletes to isolate them, recruit them

    from their incarceration into DISD athletic programs for which they would

    have been ineligible and placing them in homes within the DISD district

    area without regard to the known risk caused by having these young and

    immature students, with (albeit juvenile) violent backgrounds into

    inadequately supervised housing to allow them athletic eligibility. The

    policy and practice includes the rampant and endemic avoidance and

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    falsification of UIL rules. The policy and practice involves the contact and

    recruitment of Department incarcerated minors. The policy and practice

    involves the providing of private and confidential juvenile records to DISD

    coaches involved in recruiting. The policy involves placing these student

    athletes in homes together without adequate supervision. The policy

    includes the falsification of records. The policy includes ostracizing and

    even termination from employ of those who oppose. The policy resulted in

    the death of Troy Causey, Jr.

    38. DISD and the Department (alone and in concert) had a special relationship

    with Causey because of his custodial care in the Department, because of his

    d...