By Fernando Alfonso III / Chron.com
A federal judge has ordered a former Ferris police officer to pay $6.3 million to the family of an Iowa man who died in his custody.
William Livezey Jr., 70, died from a heart attack he suffered after being handcuffed by Malakoff Police officer Ernesto Fierro on the side of Texas State Highway 31 in Malakoff on Dec. 11, 2013, according to federal court documents obtained by Chron.com.
Malakoff is roughly 73 miles southeast of Dallas.
Livezey was delivering reclaimed lumber from his business in Taintor, Iowa, to someone in Houston when Fierro stopped him, according to court documents.
Fierro claimed Livezey had driven aggressively and repeatedly tried to run him off the road, however witnesses made the same claim about Fierro.
“According to witnesses, officer Fierro drove recklessly or aggressively next to Mr. Livezey and waved to him to pull over,” court documents stated.
“Officer Fierro’s motorcycle was weaving erratically from side to side, and darted in front of Mr. Livezey’s truck approximately 15 times, forcing him off the road onto the shoulder.”
The initial complaint from Livezey’s family filed on April 24, 2014, claims Livezey was “wrongfully and illegally threatened, assaulted, and pulled over to the side of the road” by Fierro, who was off-duty at the time, court documents stated.
“Mr. Livezey was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and was leaning against his truck. His voice was shaky, and he told the officers he was not feeling well, his chest was hurting, and he thought that the other man was going to hurt him. Officer Fierro said that Mr. Livezey was ‘faking’ and just ‘putting on a show’ to get out of going to jail,” court documents stated.
Livezey would be transported from the scene via ambulance and pronounced dead shortly thereafter due to a heart attack induced by the preceding events.
Fierro was later convicted of aggravated assault and other charges in connection with his role in the arrest and fired from the police department, court documents stated.
The federal court ordered Fierro to pay Livezey’s wife Jeanette and their four children $6.3 million on Sept. 5.