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Texas mom says police held her face in pile of fire ants, covering head and neck with hundreds of bite marks

Taylor Rogers said her 2021 arrest "underscores ... the absence of empathy and human compassion" among some law enforcement officers.
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A woman accused police officers in Santa Fe, Texas, of holding her face down in a pile of fire ants, leaving bite marks all over her head and chest.

Taylor Rogers said the incident occurred Aug. 19, 2021, while she took her son to school. Rogers alleged in a federal lawsuit that an officer came running up to her vehicle yelling for her to stop. She initially filed the suit in July and amended it in January.

Rogers "panicked and drove the wrong way" down a bus-only lane, according to the lawsuit. The suit said Rogers has mental illness and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from a previous encounter with police.

fire ant bite marks
Taylor Rogers after her arrest.KPRC

The suit said a second officer arrived at the scene, slammed Rogers to the ground and handcuffed her "so tight that the handcuffs cut into her skin." The officer then twisted her leg "with excessive force," hogtied her and then buried her face "in a pile of fire ants leaving the Plaintiffs’ face and body in excruciating pain."

"This lawsuit is brought to prevent this from ever happening again in the future because no officer should hold a citizen down in a pile of fire ants after they have already been detained/seized," the complaint said.

In newly released body camera video, shared by an attorney for Rogers, she is seen lying on the grass screaming hysterically.

"Please," Rogers yells, telling the officer that ants are getting on her face.

At a news conference Saturday, Rogers said her arrest "underscores a significant issue: the absence of empathy and human compassion among some individuals in law enforcement."

Randall Kallinen, an attorney for Rogers who organized a GoFundMe campaign on her behalf, wrote on the campaign that she was bitten over 300 times by fire ants and suffered "immense pain."

Ruben Espinoza, the police chief for the Santa Fe Independent School District, told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that the video does not tell the full story of what happened. Espinoza, an officer at the time who responded to the school, is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, as are an officer and the city of Santa Fe.

A lawyer for the city said Rogers’ claims against the city of Santa Fe were dismissed.

“The city is monitoring the litigation and the court’s analysis of the claim against the officer,” attorney Norman Ray Giles said.

Espinoza said Rogers tried to cut to the front of the area where parents were dropping off their children. He told the station that she was apprehended by different officers a short time later and allegedly drove off the road onto the grass after the officers turned their police lights on.

"She turned her vehicle into a bus driveway where students are dropped off by the bus. That location at the front of the school is very close to where kids are being dropped off. I could tell she was determined not to stop, so my fear was ... that she was going to run over someone near the school," Espinoza said. "So, I used my vehicle to stop her vehicle from doing that."

Espinoza accused her of "being erratic and noncompliant," according to KPRC.

Espinoza said that Rogers was "treated with respect" and "professionalism" during her arrest and that there was not a visible ant pile.

"She was not abused," he said. "There were no ants that we could see."

Espinoza acknowledged that Rogers did yell about ants, but he told KPRC that she was lifted from the ground seconds after she alerted the officers to the insects.

The lawsuit, however, said that the officers were not being respectful and that they even told Rogers her son was watching from the car.

"Plaintiff didn’t want her son to hear her in pain, so she got quiet while she was in excruciating pain," the lawsuit said.

Kallinen, Rogers' attorney, said he wants the officers involved to be disciplined.

City Manager Alun Thomas told KPRC that he could not comment on the lawsuit, but he has previously expressed his support for the officers.