Becerra victim sues city, former officer for more than $100,000

Becerra victim sues city, former officer for more than $100,000

ECTOR COUNTY, TX (KWES) - A woman groped by a former Odessa Police Department officer filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Ector County's 70th District Court against the officer and the city of Odessa.

The plaintiff, Shirley Hernandez, is seeking damages totaling more than $100,000 for past and future mental anguish, pain and suffering allegedly caused by the February 2014 incident, according to the petition.

She and her husband were arrested by Officer Salvador Becerra at Walmart on West Loop 338 on suspicion of theft. Dash cam footage captured Becerra putting his hands under her shirt while searching her outside the store.

Hernandez was ultimately found not guilty of theft. Becerra was suspended by the police department after multiple women accused him of misconduct and was eventually fired.

He was convicted in December on five counts of improper sexual activity with a person in custody and sentenced to one year in jail and five years of probation. Hernandez and four other victims testified in the criminal trial.

"What happened was traumatizing for my client," said Rahul Malhotra, an Odessa-based attorney representing Hernandez in the civil case. "I think it's self evident what a woman goes through when she is searched in this fashion by a man under color of law."

The city of Odessa is named in the suit, alongside Becerra, for "failure to train or supervise" the officer and "toleration of police misconduct," according to Malhotra.

Odessa City Attorney Larry Long declined to comment on details of the case.

"We are not in agreement with the petition and we will vigorously defend the suit," he said Friday.

Hernandez and Becerra could not be reached for comment.

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