TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips, her son Derek Phillips and family friend Cody Voss have filed federal lawsuits against Smith County and multiple law enforcement officials alleging multiple violations of Constitutional rights in connection to their March arrests.
Karen Phillips is seeking $10 million in damages in connection to the March 28 incident. Voss and Derek Phillips, who filed a joint lawsuit, are seeking $150.5 million.
Voss was pulled over outside the Phillips home on March 28 due to the tail lights of his car being out. When asked for his driver’s license, Voss can be heard saying “I’m not driving. This is the county commissioner’s house and the county clerk.”
Officials with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office said both Phillips were arrested for interfering with the traffic stop, and they can be heard shouting at deputies on the bodycam footage.
“Screaming is not a crime,” the lawsuit filed by Karen Phillips said. “Cussing is not a crime. Having ‘defective tail lamps’ is not a crime. Calling someone an idiot is not a crime.”
The lawsuit filed by Voss and Derek Phillips alleges that a Smith County deputy infringed on Voss’s right to travel, assaulted him and used coercion to obtain his ID.
The deputy can be heard on his bodycam footage asking Voss for his ID multiple times saying “can I see your driver’s license so I can get you out of here?” before advising him he was being detained for failure to ID.
Karen Phillips also alleges “lousy detective work” against a Smith County detective who wrote in an affidavit that Phillips approached, screamed at deputies and pushed a deputy away from Derek.
“I did yell ‘get out of my house,'” Karen Phillips wrote. “I wasn’t constantly screaming as this statement would make someone not viewing the video to believe.”
Karen alleges that instead of pushing a deputy, the video “clearly shows” her poking at the deputy with her finger instead.
“Being truthful to a court is vital,” Karen wrote.
Both lawsuits state they suffered mental anguish after the events on March 28, and their following media coverage, with Karen Phillips alleging to have suffered nightmares and Voss and Derek suffering “a traumatic shock to the nervous system” by their arrests.
The lawsuits filed on May 24 and May 30 in the Southern District of Texas allege multiple violations of their First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Eighth Amendment and Ninth Amendment rights by Smith County, Detective Philip Greanead, Deputy Riley Rugg, Deputy Johnathan Peters and Sheriff Larry Smith.
At the time of the bodycam’s release, the sheriff’s office released a statement that said:
“Part of the events that occurred that night were posted to social media. The Sheriff released the bodycam and dashcam video so that the citizens could see the full unedited version of what transpired during this traffic stop. Sheriff Larry Smith stands behind his deputies and the professional manner in which they handled this potentially volatile situation.”
The full 59 minutes of bodycam footage can be viewed below: