Police In Texas Held Woman's Face Down To Fire Ants, Federal Lawsuit Says

Taylor Rogers has accused police in Santa Fe, Texas, of using excessive force and holding her face over a pile of fire ants in 2021.
Taylor Rogers has accused police in Santa Fe, Texas, of using excessive force and holding her face over a pile of fire ants in 2021. Attorney Randall Kallinen

A Texas woman has filed a federal lawsuit accusing police officers of hogtying her and pressing her face down to a pile of fire ants as she was arrested in front of her child.

Body-camera footage released last week shows the incident at the center of Taylor Rogers’ suit, which was first filed in July and then amended in January.

On Aug. 19, 2021, Rogers, a mother from Galveston County, was driving her 9-year-old son to school when a police officer for the Santa Fe Independent School District “came down running” to Rogers’ car and told her to stop, the lawsuit stated. She began to panic and then drove the wrong way.

“Ms. Rogers suffers from mental illness,” the suit said, adding that she also has post-traumatic stress disorder from a previous incident involving officers who were present that day.

Ruben Espinoza of the Santa Fe ISD Police Department allegedly rammed Rogers’ vehicle while her son was still inside. Another officer, Christian Carranza, arrived at the scene and “immediately slammed” Rogers down to the ground and handcuffed her, according to the lawsuit.

“Carranza twisted Plaintiff’s leg with excessive force, hog tied her and buried her face in a pile of fire ants leaving the Plaintiffs’ face and body in excruciating pain,” the lawsuit stated.

Video of the arrest shows Rogers screaming in pain and calling for help, saying that ants were on her face.

During the encounter, another officer told Rogers that her son was in the car watching, the lawsuit said, and she tried to remain quiet so her child could not hear her being “tortured.”

“In this circumstance, after the combative individual was secured ... [police] should have stopped the intense interaction,” the lawsuit said — but instead, police “proceeded to turn up the fire.”

Randall Kallinen, an attorney in Texas, stood beside Rogers and her family at a Saturday press conference and said she was bitten at least 300 times by ants during the arrest. Kallinen said no officer was disciplined after the encounter.

“We saw the video ... And it shows three or four officers just hanging around watching,” the lawyer said at the press conference.

“Is it torture? Yeah, that’s a strong word, but I call it torture.”

Kallinen told HuffPost that Rogers has over $20,000 in hospital bills to pay as a result of the incident. The attorney recently started a GoFundMe page for her.

Espinoza told local NBC affiliate KPRC that Rogers was acting erratically as he tried to warn her about driving in the wrong area. He said he used his vehicle to stop her from driving closer to where kids are dropped off at the elementary school.

The Santa Fe Police Department did not respond to requests for comment.