Family of Texas mother-of-three Melissa Banda, 37, sues cops after she called them NINE TIMES for help before her ex-husband, 40, was seen forcing her into an SUV, slitting her throat and dumping her on the side of the road
A Texas mother of three was killed by her ex-husband after she called the police nine times, her family claims – and now they’re suing the city.
The body of Melissa Banda (37) was found in bushes on the side of a rural road in August 2020. Her throat was cut.
Her sister, Cynthia, filed a lawsuit against the city of McAllen, alleging that the McAllen Police Department “did next to nothing to protect her” despite her calling the police several times between November 2019 and August 2020.
Richard Ford Jr. (40), Banda’s ex-husband, was arrested and charged in connection with her death.
He allegedly grabbed her and ‘gagged her as she started kicking and screaming’ before forcing her into the back of a white SUV.
The screams alerted Banda’s babysitter and neighbors, who frantically called the police and told them that Ford had kidnapped her.
Melissa Banda (37) was murdered in 2020. Her ex-husband is accused of abducting her before slitting her throat and dumping her body by the side of a road.
Richard Ford Jr., 40, previously pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault in two separate cases — a criminal background allegedly unknown to Banda
Banda’s sister Cynthia filed a lawsuit against the city of McAllen, alleging that the McAllen Police Department ‘did next to nothing to protect her’
However, this was not the first time McAllen PD was notified of Ford’s abuse of his ex-wife, the suit states.
Banda filed for divorce from Ford on November 7, 2019 and was granted a temporary restraining order.
Fourteen days later, Banda called the McAllen police for protection against Ford because he was on his way to her house after being served with divorce papers.
Ford became progressively more violent, the lawsuit alleges, as evidenced by a series of phone calls in 2020.
On February 28 that year, he choked Banda, ‘obstructing her breathing’, while threatening to hurt their children if she reported the assault.
Still, Banda called the authorities and Ford was arrested the next day – only to be released one day later.
On June 8, Banda called again to report that Ford was following her while she was at a Gold’s Gym in McAllen, the lawsuit alleges.
On June 30, she reportedly called the police and said Ford had violated the protective order.
The lawsuit claims Melissa called the police nine times between November 2019 and August 2020 — even in the days before her death
The mother of three said Ford stalked her, abused her and impersonated her online on multiple occasions
On July 7, Banda told police she suspected Ford was using a photo of her on a website offering “service of a woman,” causing her to receive text messages.
A day later, she reported that she thought Ford was following her and may have planted a tracking device on her vehicle.
On July 18, she told police that he violated the protective order again.
Two days later, she reported that she suspected Ford was impersonating her online.
The day before a modification hearing for her divorce, Banda told police she suspected Ford had taken a car from her home.
The next day – August 6 – Banda went missing.
Hours after the trial, Ford is accused of driving to his estranged wife’s home and ambushing her when she arrived.
On August 7, she was reported as a missing person by the McAllen Police Department.
Ford was arrested later that day in the resort town of South Padre Island.
On the day of her divorce hearing, Ford drove to her home hours later and forced her into the back of an SUV. Her screams attracted the attention of her babysitter and neighbors, who called the police
Banda was reported as a missing person on August 7. Her sister claims the search party spent 30 hours looking for her.
Two days after her abduction, Banda’s body was found, according to the lawsuit.
Her sister claims they searched for her for 30 hours.
“I would have kept searching forever,” she wrote on Facebook. “How I wish things would have been different.”
The suit also accuses police of having “a policy or practice of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases.”
Cynthia Banda is asking the court for compensatory damages and a reasonable attorney’s fee, the lawsuit states.
She is demanding a jury trial and seeking damages for the ‘mental anguish, emotional pain, torment and suffering Banda suffered prior to her death’, as well as medical, funeral and burial costs.
Ford faces a slew of charges for his role in Banda’s murder.
These include capital murder by terrorist threat in the course of kidnapping with aggravating circumstances; assault on a family member by obstructing breathing or circulation; violation of a protective order involving stalking; and stalking.
Ford has a checkered past that was allegedly unknown to Banda.
He pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of a man in 2002 as well as the assault of another man.
The suit accuses McAllen PD of being aware of both cases.
Ford pleaded not guilty to all charges on March 3, 2021. Jury selection is scheduled for January 26, 2024, with a trial set to begin on January 29.
Two days after her alleged abduction, Banda’s body was found along a country road in the town of Donna, Texas.
The lawsuit accuses police of having “a policy or practice of treating domestic violence cases involving women and/or Hispanic women less seriously than other types of assault cases.”
Banda’s death wasn’t the first of McAllen PD’s alleged wrongdoings — the department has a sordid past, as a video surfaced in 1981 showing police beating inmates without provocation
A GoFundMe as of August 2020 raised just shy of its goal of $35,000.
‘Melissa Banda was a young, beautiful, smart and kind woman,’ it reads.
‘She was the mother of 3 children (ages 6, 10 and 12) who meant the world to her! She coached her daughters’ soccer team, worked full-time and was always willing to help the less fortunate.’
All of the money would go to Cynthia, ‘as the sole beneficiary to help support Melissa’s children during this difficult time.’
This isn’t the first time the McAllen Police Department has gotten into hot water.
It suffered permanent damage to its reputation in 1981, when television stations aired videotapes made by the department between 1974 and 1979.
They were recorded by a television camera set up over the booking area at the police station to protect officers from brutality claims – but they captured numerous occasions where officers beat prisoners.
Cynthia has been writing tributes to her sister every year since her murder.
On August 6, the third anniversary of her sister’s death, she wrote: ‘At exactly 2pm on this day was the last time I told you I love you, laugh, smile and hug you.
‘I hope you know how much we really MISS YOU.
‘We love you Sister. What I would give to have you here with me, but I know one day we will see you again.’