Federal lawsuit over Melissa Banda’s kidnapping, murder dismissed

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Melissa Banda

A lawsuit filed against the McAllen Police Department by a domestic violence victim who was kidnapped and murdered has been dismissed.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by the family of Melissa Banda on July 2.

Banda was kidnapped and killed by Richard Ford on Aug. 6, 2020.

A jury found Ford guilty of capital murder in March. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Banda’s family filed the lawsuit in state court on Aug. 5, 2022 — nearly two years after her murder. The litigation was removed to federal court on Oct. 17, 2023.

The lawsuit alleged that McAllen police were aware of violations of a protective order by Ford and that her death could have been prevented.

“Plaintiff would show that city of McAllen Police Department had a policy of custom of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases and that such policy or custom was well known to officers within the department,” the lawsuit stated.

Banda’s family also said in the lawsuit that McAllen police failed to enforce a protective order Banda had against Ford.

Fidel Banda, father of Melissa Banda, holds his grandson, Trey Ford, son of Melissa Banda, outside the courtroom at the end of the Richard Ford murder trial in the death of his ex-wife Melissa Banda in the 206th state District Court on Thursday, March 7, 2024, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

“Melissa Banda was a 37-year-old Latina who was employed by T-Mobile as a District Performance Operations Manager,” the lawsuit reads. “She 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) McAllen Police Department did almost nothing to protect her.”

The city of McAllen denied all of the allegations and filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was granted.

McAllen argued that Banda had not adequately made a claim for municipal liability.

“(Cynthia) Banda alleges that Melissa’s ‘own experience with [the] City of McAllen Police Department is evidence of … a pattern of treating domestic assault cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other classes of assaults.’ … The court disagrees. Melissa’s experience, while tragic, says nothing about how the McAllen Police Department deals with other types of assaults,” a preliminary recommendation from a magistrate judge stated.

A federal district judge agreed and dismissed the case with prejudice.