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He asked for badge numbers. A deputy broke his face, lawsuit says.

Evan Norman allegedly suffered ‘extensive life altering injuries’ after the incident with a Houston sheriff’s deputy

Harris County Sheriff's Office body-camera footage shows Evan Norman moments after he was punched in the face on March 21, 2021. (Video still)
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Two sheriff’s deputies moonlighting for a Houston restaurant kicked out Evan Norman for being too drunk on the night of March 21, 2021. Norman, intending to file a complaint, asked them for their badge numbers.

Moments later, one of those deputies, Lee Ingle, bull-rushed and tackled Norman as he stood outside the restaurant, according to a recently filed federal lawsuit. Then, while on top of him, Ingle allegedly started pummeling Norman. As he did, fellow deputy Christopher Sutton egged him on, the lawsuit states.

“He broke his face in many places — fracture after fracture after fracture,” Norman’s lawyer, Randall Kallinen, said Thursday at a news conference.

Ingle’s punches broke Norman’s nose, jaw and eye socket, according to the lawsuit. Yet it was Norman, then 34, who was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, a felony. Although prosecutors dismissed the case 21 months later, he had already lost his job and endured “serious family troubles due [to] the injuries, arrest and prosecution,” the suit states.

Two years later, Norman is suing both deputies; their boss, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez; Harris County; and Bombshells, the restaurant where he claims he was overserved to the point of incoherence. In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas, he’s accusing the deputies of assault in a beating that caused “extensive life altering injuries.” In suing Sheriff Gonzalez and Harris County, Norman alleges Ingle’s actions were not an aberration but “a policy and practice of deliberate indifference to the care and custody of citizens and detainees that resulted in the unlawful detention, false arrest, and malicious prosecution” of Norman and others.

Harris County and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office declined to respond to Norman’s allegations. But sheriff’s office spokesperson Angelique Myers said in an email to The Washington Post that both Ingle and Sutton, who’ve been with the sheriff’s office four and nine years, respectively, are still employed there. A review of the incident determined that the level of force used against Norman was in keeping with sheriff’s office policy, she said.

In a separate suit filed last week in Harris County District Court, Norman sued Bombshells’ parent company, RCI Hospitality Holdings. He’s accusing the restaurant of negligence, alleging that employees overserved him alcohol “until he became mentally and physically incoherent” and was “a clear danger to himself and others.” He’s seeking at least a $1 million judgment against the company.

RCI Hospitality did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.

Norman was depressed on March 21, 2021, when he went to Bombshells, his lawsuit states. Over the next two hours, the restaurant allegedly served him seven drinks, even though he was obviously drunk. He slurred his words, stumbled from table to table and, at one point, passed out on top of one, the suit states.

“Evan had lost some of his motor and mental skills. … Evan’s appearance, speech, and loss of awareness — he had passed out at one point — were all obvious clues,” his lawsuit states.

Because of Norman’s level of intoxication, Ingle, who was doing off-duty security for Bombshells, escorted him out of the restaurant, the suit states. In doing so, he allegedly grabbed Norman’s shirt, pushed him and swore at him. When he forced Norman from the restaurant, Sutton was just outside the front door, also on an off-duty security detail.

Then, Ingle tackled Norman and started whaling on him, the suit states.

“He was helpless on the ground, and they were punching him in the face,” Dan Barton, one of Norman’s attorneys, said at the news conference.

Kallinen said that, when he first took the case and reviewed Norman’s medical records, he was surprised he’d survived.

“Had he not been a young man in good health, he might be dead,” he told reporters Thursday.

But Norman suffered permanent damage, according to Rachel Fischer, a registered nurse who reviewed the body-camera footage and Norman’s medical records at the behest of Norman’s lawyers. Fischer told The Post that Norman still can’t feel the left side of his face, has vision problems, and struggles to breathe and swallow. Psychologically, he exhibits symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, she added.

“He will never be the same again,” Fischer said. “His body will never be the same. He’ll never breathe the same.”