Man Mistaken for Mass Shooter Sues Texas Authorities for $3 Million
Brandon Gonzales, 24, was falsely accused of being the gunman responsible for a mass shooting that took place at a party near Greenville in 2019, and one year later, he is suing law enforcement for arresting him.
The lawsuit, filed on October 27, 2020, in federal district court, names multiple defendants, including the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and a witness who identified Gonzales as the shooter. False arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution are two of the charges alleged in the complaint that is seeking $3.25 million in damages, as well as interest, costs, and attorney fees.
What Led to the Arrest of Gonzales
A celebration in honor of Texas A&M University-Commerce’s homecoming was held at The Party Venue on the evening of Saturday, October 26, 2019. Hundreds of college students and other young people attended the party, which became chaotic when, just after midnight, a male shooter started firing a handgun, wounding six people and killing two.
Lawyers speaking on behalf of their client said that Gonzales did go inside The Party Venue at around 11:00 p.m. that night, but he felt that it was too hot and crowded, so he came out to sit in his car and Facetime a friend. Gonzales was shocked when he later saw people running out of the building. He waited for the person he came with to come out, and they quickly left.
Two days later, Gonzales was arrested on a capital murder charge at the auto dealership where he worked as a mechanic, and his bail was set at $1 million. A traffic ticket had been his only previous official altercation with the law, but an unnamed witness had identified him as the shooter at the party. However, on November 5, 2019, authorities released Gonzales from his nine-day stay at the Hunt County Jail, saying there was new evidence that could clear him, and recommended that the case against him be dropped.
The Effect of a False Accusation
Gonzales spoke at a news conference upon his discharge from jail and expressed how painful it was to hear others refer to him as “the shooter.” Although he had been cleared of the murder charges, Gonzales discovered that the stigma of being labeled as a mass shooter shadowed him. “It ruined my life,” Gonzales has said. “It’s like, even though I was set free — they finally found out I was innocent — it’s still there.”
He moved to Orlando, Florida, to escape his tarnished reputation and find work to support his three young children, but he was still recognized in Florida. He has suffered from depression and anxiety while struggling to land employment.
Defending Victims of Unjust Charges
If you have been falsely charged with a crime, you need prompt and skilled legal representation to prove your innocence and fight against the negative repercussions. Our experienced attorneys will be by your side through this stressful time and seek justice for you. Contact us today at (972) 369-0577.