A former employee of a Texas church has filed a federal lawsuit against the police department that arrested and handcuffed him after he fatally shot his wife during a public marriage ceremony in the city of Houston.
The suit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Houston says the officer, Matthew Schmitz, who was on a routine patrol in the neighborhood of the church, acted within his rights when he used a stun gun on Mark Schmitzel after his wife, Michelle Schmitze, called 911 on Feb. 19, 2016.
The suit says that was the first time Schmitzman was charged with a crime.
A police officer stands next to a car outside the home of a man killed during a shooting in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, April 26, 2021.
The shooting, which police say was related to domestic violence, prompted a national discussion about police use of deadly force.
(Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)The suit says Schmitzes actions were “in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
It says he was entitled to reasonable suspicion to arrest Michelle Schmittez and that he did so.
It says that while Schmitzer claimed to have a gun, he was unarmed, and he told police he didn’t have one.
It also says that when officers found the .40-caliber handgun in Schmitzas waistband, they used it in self-defense.
The lawsuit says the shooting “exacerbated a societal divide between black and white couples” and has “devastated the lives of many people” in the area.
“The public’s outrage over this tragic event has been overwhelming,” it says.
“Yet the city and police department have failed to take the necessary steps to address the growing public outrage.”
In a statement, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “We are saddened to learn that Mark Schmitz, a former Houston Police Department officer, was shot and killed during the February wedding of his wife.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and loved ones.””
We are working closely with the local authorities and will do whatever is necessary to provide support to the family and community members affected by this tragic incident,” Turner added.
“As the city continues to recover from the tragic events of February 21, we will continue to provide all appropriate support.”
The city of Texas has not yet issued a statement about the lawsuit.
The Houston Police Chief, Brian Manley, said Monday that he would review the case and will determine what additional steps he needs to take.
He added that the department is committed to improving training and practices in its use of force.
The Schmitzers, who have four children, said they are disappointed the lawsuit will not be resolved.
“I think that the police are the ones that have to come forward with an explanation for the actions that they did and I think that’s really unfortunate,” Mark Schmittz said.
“It’s not fair for them to say they didn’t know that it was a domestic violence issue.”