Charges Dropped in APD Case
While at the car, "Olsen used inappropriate force against ... Thornton, which caused ... Thornton to hit the ground and injure his head," the memo reads. "Olsen's actions enraged the crowd, which became hostile towards the police and EMS personnel." But in his police report -- and then later, during an interview with APD's Internal Affairs -- Olsen told a slightly different story, reporting that Thornton had approached "directly toward me and came very close to me," Further, he reported that Thornton followed him around, yelling at him. Olsen's account was challenged after IA investigators obtained a videotape of the event, recorded by cameras on the Texas Lottery Commission building on the corner of Sixth and Red River. According to the department's disciplinary memo, Olsen's "police report and ... affidavits do not accurately reflect what occurred," that night.
Still, the DA's office wiped Olsen's slate clean last month, citing insufficient evidence to prosecute the case -- a decision that angered Thornton's attorney Jim Harrington, director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. Harrington fired off a letter to DA Ronnie Earle on Dec. 29, complaining that Thornton was not advised of the decision to dismiss the case, in violation of Thornton's rights as a crime victim under state law. "[I]t appears that, once again, officers who abuse their office are protected by your office," Harrington wrote, "and victims of police abuse are slighted by your office -- not all victims are treated the same." On Jan. 6, Harrington got a letter of reply from First Assistant DA Rosemary Lehmberg, who wrote that the facts in the Olsen case "did not rise to the level" of a prosecutable offense. The DA's office, she wrote, did not feel that they could prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Olsen's statements were "intentional misstatements" and not merely "misstatements."
Thornton's civil rights suit against Olsen, filed by Harrington last summer, is still pending in federal district court.