September 4, 2019
A former deputy constable was convicted Wednesday of official oppression for pulling a Taser on a mentally ill woman restrained in a hospital bed in May 2016, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced.
After being convicted by a jury, Charles Sanville IV, 32, was sentenced by visiting State District Judge Vanessa Velasquez.
“Persons with mental illness are part of an exceedingly vulnerable population; when they are victimized, we prosecute,” Ogg said. “The victim in this case was tied to a hospital bed and an officer abused his position of authority by taunting her with a Taser because he was angry. He had a duty to protect her, not hurt her.”
The female patient, who is now 28, had been taken to the North Cypress Medical Center by ambulance as she suffered a psychiatric emergency.
Emergency room nurses testified during the trial that upon arrival, the patient was outfitted with a soft mask over her mouth to prevent spitting, and tied to the bed with heavy-duty nylon restraints.
Sanville, a Precinct 4 deputy constable at the time, was not employed by the hospital. He testified that the woman was in a patient room and spit on him.
Nurses testified that Sanville drew a Taser and brandished it at the woman. They also said they saw flashes from the Taser. Such light would indicate a discharge of electricity.
The woman was unavailable to testify at trial.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Districts Attorney Jules Johnson and Gavin Ellis of the Civil Rights Division.
The division is tasked with reviewing all officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and claims of excessive force. Prosecutors with the division are “on-call” 24/7.
In May, in another Civil Rights Division prosecution, a former Metro Police officer was convicted of assault for a 2016 incident in which he beat a man at a light-rail stop.
This is the second time Sanville has stood trial for this offense. A hung jury last month led to a mistrial.
Ogg has pushed for additional training and resources for Harris County law enforcement officers who deal with mentally ill people daily, and has created a diversion program for the mentally ill accused of low-level, non-violent misdemeanors.