Family claims North Austin man's death due to APD excessive force

James Sizer. (Photo credit: APD)

The family of a man who died last March a week after an encounter with police is suing the City of Austin and two Austin Police officers in federal court, claiming his death was the result from police action.

According to the lawsuit, James Sizer, 62, was stunned by a Taser and died due the "unnecessary and unreasonable use of force by Austin Police Officers Martha Cameron and Salvatore Reale."

The incident happened Friday, March 6. The lawsuit says Sizer had called police to his North Austin home to complain of a person, claiming to be a permitted gun carrier, was intending to come into his home. Sizer says he did not want the person inside his home and he would defend his home if the person attempted to force entry.

The lawsuit claims that when the Officers Cameron and Reale arrived, Sizer was outside the home waiting. The officers pointed their firearms at Sizer and instructed him to get on the ground. Sizer said he could not because he had a disability. Court document say he had hip replacement surgery and continued to have problems.

Officer Cameron stunned him with a Taser. Sizer fell to the ground with the back of his head striking the pavement, opening a large laceration to his head and causing blood to flow, the lawsuit says. Sizer, who was unable to move, was placed in handcuffs.

Sizer was transported by EMS to North Austin Medical Center and then booked into the Travis County Jail with a charge of discharge of a firearm, the lawsuit says.

Sizer was released from jail after posting bond. On Saturday, March 14, Sizer's wife came home to find him dead in their bathtub. According to the lawsuit an autopsy describes the sole cause of death as complication of blunt force trauma to the head. The death certificate also describes the injury as occurring as "fell back and hit head after hit with and electrical conducting device," the lawsuit claims.

The family is seeking unspecified damages in Sizer's death.

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