MONTGOMERY COUNTY – A Montgomery County man has filed a complaint against the Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office after he said officers used excessive force and broke his neck during a traffic stop.
On Jan. 19, 40-year-old Gary Berger said he was riding his motorcycle home when he was unaware that an officer was following him.
Alberto Ruiz, Berger’s attorney, said the officer’s cruiser’s dashcam video showed Berger’s motorcycle hitting a dip on the side of the road as he turned into his fiancée’s street, causing him to fall over.
As Berger rises to his feet, hands raised to his side, a deputy constable is heard on body camera footage ordering him to get on the ground and threatening to tase him.
Moments later, the officer tasered Berger, who then fell to the ground.
Multiple officers were seen in the video trying to put Berger in the back of a patrol car. Berger said the officers bent his head sharply trying to put him in the back seat, causing his neck to snap.
Berger is heard on the video crying out in pain multiple times, “You broke my neck.”
The officer’s bodycam video went black for a second, but when it returned, Berger was back on the ground and surrounded by officers. According to the video, one of the officers appeared to have had his knee on Berger’s neck.
“You wanna kill me (expletive)? You wanna press on my neck?” Berger is heard on video saying to the officer.
When the officer asks Berger to lift his neck to put a spit guard over his head, Berger says, “I can’t lift my head because you just broke my neck.”
The officer replies, “Well sorry about that.”
Berger said EMS rushed him to the hospital where a doctor performed what he called “life-saving surgery” to fuse together his cervical spine.
He still wears a neck brace and appeared in a wheelchair during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Berger’s attorney, the Houston Peace & Justice Center and local community advocates are now calling on the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office to file police brutality charges against the officers who were directly involved in the incident.
“Police brutality that causes a catastrophic injury of someone who did not deserve this level of harm, danger or force? It was completely unnecessary,” said Ruiz.
Berger is currently facing charges for evading arrest and harassing a public servant as a result of the incident. He was initially being held on bonds totaling $300,000 before his attorney was able to get the amount lowered.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I almost died. I believe they’re trying to do the charges on me just to cover up what they did to me and to get me out of the way,” he said.
Constable Chris Jones sent in the following statement regarding the incident:
“Montgomery County Precinct 5 Constable Chris Jones denies the allegations made by Mr. Berger and his counsel. Although the investigation is still ongoing, it is clear that the statements by Mr. Berger, who has a lengthy criminal history, including prior convictions for involuntary manslaughter and felonious assaults, are not consistent with the video recordings of his arrest on January 19, 2021. Our agency is committed to serving and protecting the citizens of Montgomery County in a transparent and open manner. We look forward to working with the District Attorney’s office and other appropriate law enforcement agencies to ensure a thorough and detailed review of the incident is completed.”
Watch the full bodycam video below: