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City settles lawsuit with civil rights attorney jailed on false charges

Lawyer UA Lewis called police for help, went to jail for interfering, then sued. Almost four years later, the city of Houston paid her thousands.

HOUSTON — The city of Houston spent thousands to quash a federal lawsuit that claimed a Houston police officer jailed a lawyer on false charges.  

That lawyer offered a partial refund in exchange for an apology.

“I was hoping that HPD would look at her behavior and say we don’t agree with this,” said civil rights attorney UA Lewis.  “What we’re going to do is we’re going to address this and we’re going to address her behavior.  McDonald’s would do it.” 

Almost four years ago, Lewis call HPD when a mechanic put his hands on her co-worker.  The officer doubted Lewis’ story and profession.  

The officer even referred to Lewis as a “attorney” in the incident report.  After Lewis spoke up, she was arrested.

Prosecutors pushed Lewis to take a plea deal.

“As a civil rights lawyer, I could not,” Lewis said.

She fought. Once cleared, Lewis asked HPD to discipline the officer.  Attorney Randall Kallinen later sued.

“In my practice we see that people are arrested for lack of a better term failure to bow down to a police officer,” Kallinen said.

“When (the officer) took that authority and abused it and I know it, as a civil rights lawyer how could I let her get away with that,” Lewis asked.  “How could I not have her to address that?”

The city settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in January.  Lewis received payment this week.

“The city tries or settles many disputes and always weighs the risks of litigation and makes decisions in its best interest and that of taxpayers,” a city spokesperson said in a statement to KHOU 11 News.  “This case was no different.”

Lewis offered a partial refund, $5,000, for an apology.  She is still waiting.

After going through her case, Lewis said she better connects with clients knowing what it is like to be in their position.

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