Family Reacts to Dash Cam Video of Moments Leading Up to Local W - - No One Gets You Closer

Family Reacts to Dash Cam Video of Moments Leading Up to Local Woman's Death

SHERMAN, TX -- Last year a woman died following her arrest by the Sherman Police Department. The dash-cam video was released this week, and while Sherman Police maintain they did nothing wrong, the woman's sister feels differently. 

Two hours worth of dash cam video show in real time the Sherman Police Department's encounter with Lesa Surrat on August 20th, 2013.

"The reason for the stop is when you turned on Hazelwood you had your right blinker on but you turned left," the officer initiating the stop tells Surrat.

An investigation by the Texas Rangers revealed police had been informed Surrat had drugs, but she remained upbeat during the stop.

"We were dancing, so i might have hit it by accident," Surrat said.

Minutes later, Surrat is placed under arrest.

"Do you have anything that might poke me or stick me," the officer asks. Surrat replies, "no." 

Her passenger, Monica Garza is also arrested for an outstanding warrant. In the back of the squad car, the women ask for purses out of the car and both officers leave to get them. That's when Surrat slips out of handcuffs, and eventually slips what police say is a plastic bag of drugs in her mouth. Officers realize their mistake

"You might want to watch them because they're supposed to be hiding stuff in their bra," an officer said.

Officers return. Surrat appears to be chewing on something. That's when officers scream at her to spit it out.

"Open your mouth up! Open your mouth up!"

The department says officers are putting their hands on pressure points, trying to force Seurat's mouth open. KTEN News sat down with Surrat's sister who had never seen the video. It's this moment, she says, police cross the line.

"In my opinion, kill my sister," Linda Surrat said. "By putting pressure on her neck where she can't swallow. She was already turning blue. And they kept putting continuous pressure on her neck until she became unconscious."

The struggle lasts for just more than a minute when police call for help .

"I'm trying to get her out, tell her to quit fighting us," one officer said. Another speaks into his radio, "send an ambulance."

Lesa was brain dead and transported to a nearby hospital. Her sister took her off life support. An autopsy showed her cause of death is asphyxiation. Her sister says filing a civil lawsuit was the only way to call attention.

"I'm not interested in money," she said. "I'm interested in everybody in the world knowing about it. As many as can possibly know."

The officers involved were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a grand jury last October. The department only released the video after the attorney general called  it an open record, even denying it to Surrat's sister, but the city says it also shows they did nothing wrong.
"Those images are hard to look at but I don't think they show any wrong doing on the part of Sherman P.D.," said Brandon Shelby, City of Sherman Attorney.

 The civil lawsuit is still in it's beginning stages. Both parties have a meeting with the judge next month.