Brandon Backe, who was once a solid pitcher for the Houston Astros and in 2005 helped pitch the club to the only World Series appearance in its 51 year history, suddenly lost his ability to pitch in 2009 thanks to a painful shoulder injury — an injury caused, he says, when he was assaulted by Galveston, Texas, police officers at a wedding party the previous October.
Now Brandon Backe is suing the Galveston Police Department for the $15 million he says he would have earned by finishing his Major League Baseball career on his own terms. The 35-year-old ex-hurler and Galveston native filed his lawsuit in 2010 — along with 11 other partygoers who say they were also beaten at an upscale outdoor bar during the wedding party on October 5, 2008.
Hotel Brawl Described as "Riot," Backe And 12 Others ArrestedAt the time, the fight was described as a "riot" and resulted in 13 arrests, Brandon Backe among then. But charges against nine of the 13 were dropped and Backe pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge that got him just a single day of probation.
Nine of the cops were later suspended and four others were reprimanded for their involvement in the brawl. Two weeks after the incident, Backe filed a complaint with the FBI charging that the cops violated his civil rights. Tuesday in federal court, Backe took the stand in the civil trial and testified that the police beating put an end to his baseball career.
"You want to be able to hang it up yourself, not let someone else hang it up for you," he said in highly emotional testimony in which he described how the right arm that he once used to strike out 360 Major league batters and win 31 games over an eight-year MLB career is now useless for even simple tasks such as buckling a seat belt.
Brandon Backe Testifies Police Attacked Him, Injured His ShoulderBacke described how he had just come from buying a beer at the bar when all hell broke loose. He said police had the bride's brother on the ground, bloodied and stunned from a taser blast. When police told him to "back the f*** up," Backe said he backed as far as he could go and asked the cops to "chill out."
The police then attacked him, Backe testfied, saying that they knocked him to the ground and beat him until his face bled — as seen in the above arrest photo.
Backe's Attempt To Continue Career Ended By Shoulder PainWhen he fell, Brandon Backe said, his shoulder struck a concrete curb. The pain never went away and he later had a large piece of bone and several smaller pieces removed from his shoulder in surgery.
He tried to pitch with the Astros in 2009 but found that the pain was too great to continue his career.
"I was sick of the pain, sick of taking medication," Brandon Backe testified. "Finally it came to a breaking point where I couldn't do what I was doing."
Defense attorney William Helfland claimed that Backe was exaggerating his injury from the beating and that his career was derailed by separate injuries. But Brandon Backe denied those claims under oath.