McALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The family of a woman who was allegedly kidnapped and killed by her ex-husband filed a lawsuit in federal court against the City of McAllen.
Richard Ford is facing charges of capital murder, assault, stalking and violating a protective order in connection to the death of his ex-wife Melissa Banda on Aug. 6, 2020.
The lawsuit, filed by Banda’s sister Cynthia Banda, accuses the McAllen Police Department of failing to respond to a number of complaints made by Melissa in reference to Ford violating restraining and protective orders against her, resulting in her death.
“[Melissa Banda] repeatedly called the McAllen Police Department to report criminal acts of her ex-husband, Richard Ford, Jr., with whom they had three children together,” the lawsuit states. “McAllen Police Department did almost nothing to protect her.”
The lawsuit states that Melissa made complaints to the police in reference to Ford violating protective orders or committing criminal acts against her on the following dates:
- April 2020
- June 8, 2020
- June 30, 2020
- July 8, 2020
- July 18, 2020
- Aug. 5, 2020
On Aug. 6, Ford allegedly kidnapped, assaulted and subsequently killed Banda.
The lawsuit also alleges that Ford had a criminal history that was unknown to Banda, including pleading guilty to the attempted murder of Marco Espinosa in 2002 and the assault of Michael Guerrero. The document accuses McAllen PD of being aware of both cases.
Calls to McAllen Police
The lawsuit states that Banda filed for divorce from Ford on Nov. 7, 2019, and obtained a temporary restraining order. The document alleges that 14 days later, Banda called McAllen police for protection from Ford because he was on his way to her home after being served with the divorce papers.
On Feb. 28, 2020, the document states Ford assaulted Banda by choking her and impeding her breath, while also threatening to harm their children if she reported the assault. Banda reported the incident and Ford was arrested the next day before being released the next day.
On June 8, 2020, Banda again called McAllen PD to report that Ford was stalking her while she was at a Gold’s Gym in McAllen, the lawsuit claims.
On June 30, 2020, she called again reportedly called police saying Ford violated the protective order.
On July 7, 2020, the lawsuit says Banda told police she suspected Ford was using her image or likeness on a website offering “service from a female,” which was causing her to receive text messages.
On July 8, 2020, she reported that she suspected Ford was stalking her and possibly placed a tracking device on her vehicle.
On July 18, 2020, she advised police that he, again, violated the protective order.
On July 20, 2020, she reported to police that she suspected that Ford was impersonating her online.
On Aug. 5, 2020, the day before a modification hearing for her divorce, Banda informed police that Ford had likely taken a vehicle from her home.
The lawsuit states the next day, Aug. 6, 2020, there was a court hearing involving Banda and Ford. Hours after, Ford is accused of pulling up to his estranged wife’s home as she arrived and approached her from behind, forcefully grabbing her and covering her mouth as she began to kick and scream.
Ford wrestled her into a white SUV, and Banda’s nanny and neighbors immediately called police after hearing her screams, explaining that Ford had kidnapped her, the document alleges.
The next day, Ford was identified as a suspect and arrested on South Padre Island.
Two days after she was kidnapped, Banda’s body was found in the bushes off the side of a rural road in Donna. Her throat was slit and her cause of death was determined to be an “incised wound to the neck,” the lawsuit states.
Banda’s estate argues that McAllen Police had a “policy or custom of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases,” as well as calling discrimination a motivating factor.
Banda’s estate demanded a trial by jury and is seeking damages for the mental anguish, emotional pain, torment and suffering that Banda suffered prior to her death, as well as medical, funeral and burial expenses.
On March 3, 2021, Ford pleaded not guilty to all counts. Jury selection has been scheduled for Jan. 26, 2024, with a trial set to begin on Jan. 29, 2024.