Police News On Police In Texas

News On Police Brutality and Police Misconduct in Texas

      Police Brutality and Misconduct Is Not Just a Problem, It’s Illegal! 

    Police News On Police Brutality and Police Misconduct In Texas


                                                                         Page 11


The incident happened last month when officer Carlos Campos was called out to investigate a burglary at a trailer home in the lower valley.

According to the affidavit, Campos made a 13 year old girl go inside a trailer with him and he then allegedly fondled her breasts and her buttocks.

Chief Wiles told KFOX that the girl went through extensive interviews and he believes her story is credible.

But, Campos’s lawyer says that the girl was involved with the burglary and believes the story is made up.

If Campos is found guilty of indecency with a child, he could face 2 to 20 years in prison.

Michelle Metzinger, who skates for Assassination City, was skating down Elm Street when police Officer Ceaphus Gordon stopped her in front of Elm Street Tattoo, which was where the differences in story began.

“I have bruises and scratches all over me,” Metzinger said. “You have no idea how rough he was on me.” However, police said Metzinger tried to gouge the officer’s right eye in the fight. But some witnesses also had a different opinion from the officer’s account of what occurred that night.

“He just jumps on her and puts his knee on the back of her head with her face in the ground like so brutally,” said Oliver Peck, tattoo artist. “It was ridiculous, and instantly blood was everywhere and she’s crying bloody murder like helplessly.”

Peck said he saw the police officer give Metzinger a ticket for jaywalking and then jumped on her twice when she tried to pull away.

“It was just a textbook example of unnecessary excessive force.

Derek Conway, who is also known as D.C. and works as a bartender, said he also witnessed the struggle between the two and called the incident “police brutality.”

“[It was] completely over the top,” Conway said. “It looked like a street mugging. It looked like a fight. He was mugging her, that’s what it looked like.”

Metzinger was treated for her injuries and arrested for assault of a peace officer.

Officer Gordon was treated as well for scratches on his face and bruises on his shins after he said Metzinger kicked him with her skates.

Metzinger has hired a lawyer to fight back and police said they will consider an internal investigation.

John W. Holiday, 27, who resigned from police force just two months before being charged, was arrested earlier this month and charged with tampering with a government record.

Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk said the charge stems from allegedly submitting false entries on Federal Emergency Management Agency documents to receive money for damage caused by the hurricane.

Police Chief Robert Burby confirmed that the former Texas City officer had been arrested, but would not elaborate on the charges or the investigation that led to the arrest.

“This is an ongoing investigation and there are a lot of things I can’t share with you,” said Burby, who defended the decision not to release information on Holiday’s arrest — some two weeks ago — until being contacted by The Daily News on Wednesday.

The chief insisted no one in his department was aware of a FEMA investigation of Holiday until after he had resigned Nov. 2.

“There was no favoritism played here because he was an officer,” said Burby. “We were not aware prior to his resignation of any (allegations or federal investigation).”

Burby said the two-year veteran cited personal reasons for leaving the department.

The chief said federal investigators contacted Texas City police shortly before Holiday, a Galveston resident, was arrested Jan. 5 and posted $15,000 bond the same day.

He could face additional charges based on the ongoing investigation. The district attorney’s office is expected to present details from the investigation to a grand jury in about two weeks

Police Sergeant Randy TenBrink says Sheriff Michael Shumate then allegedly grabbed and shoved the woman.

A judge earlier approved a temporary restraining order for Michael Shumate against his wife.

Officers who responded observed a scratch under Beverly Shumate’s left eye and a red mark around her arm. No medical treatment was necessary.

Potter County officials didn’t immediately return calls for comment. A phone number for the Shumate home wasn’t available.

Michael Shumate, who wasn’t at the home when officers arrived, has been sheriff since 2001.

No charges were immediately filed.

 Officer Ransom Funches, 37, who patrols northwest Dallas, was arrested at about 3 a.m. Monday on a Class C misdemeanor family violence assault charge.

Carrollton police said that his wife called 911, saying that he hit her. Officers said she had a minor injury, and arrested Officer Funches.

He was released on Tuesday, and Dallas police placed him on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Earlier this year, Officer Funches was suspended for five days for being discourteous to a police employee. He has also been cited for sleeping on duty, insubordination, interfering with process, filing a false report or citation, profane language and violating off duty work policy.

He quit the department in 1999 and was listed as ineligible for rehire because of his disciplinary history. However, former police chief Terrell Bolton rehired him in 2001.

 Officer James Bernard Isenhower was arrested Friday by authorities in El Paso County, Colo., Yenne said.

He is accused of carrying on an affair with the teenage daughter of his Russian wife while living in the Danbury area and working for the Danbury Police Department.

“It’s tragic,” Yenne said. “She trusted this man. Jim Isenhower impregnated a young teenage girl, an innocent little girl. He impregnated her here in Texas.”

Danbury Mayor Robert Rosier said Isenhower worked for the department for several years, but he wasn’t sure exactly when he left.

A Brazoria County grand jury handed up an indictment Jan. 12, accusing him of sexually assaulting the girl “on or about” Oct. 15, 2000.

A grand jury indictment is not a finding of guilt, merely a determination enough evidence exists to go to trial.

Yenne said Isenhower is facing similar charges in Colorado. She said her office was notified several months ago.

“We initially found out via Danbury officials who had been notified by Colorado,” Yenne said.

 Officer Isenhower has posted bail and been released from the El Paso Detention Center, said a deputy at the jail, who declined to give his name. Isenhower was charged with being a fugitive from justice.

 Gladewater police officer Bryan Naismith shot and killed Jonathan J. King after a hit-and-run accident in the East Texas city last June.

 Investigators say King was shot after trying to run the police officer over after a chase down a dead-end road.

 Attorney General Greg Abbott said in a statement released Monday that’s he’s seeking a court order to force the release of records related to the shooting, as requested by King’s family.

The Attorney General’s Office says the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department asked for an exception to the open records law because of a pending criminal investigation.

 But according to the statement, Sheriff Anthony Betterton did not forward the file to the AG’s office for review as required by law.

 Ongoing criminal investigations should be afforded a veil of protection, but a county sheriff may not unilaterally decide what constitutes investigative files that are off limits,” Abbott said.

“This state’s open records laws give law enforcement officials every opportunity to act within the law and still shield criminal investigations. This sheriff’s office did not properly use that opportunity,” he said.

Betterton didn’t return a message left today for comment. 

Officer Shane Spry had worked for the department less than two years at the time of the incident. He reportedly pointed his gun at Nara Shae Lockett to prevent her from driving through a crime scene in January 2005, according to the notice of indefinite suspension issued by Chief Mike Strope.

The chief wrote that officer Spry used excessive force, a violation of police department policy. The officer also was found to have been insubordinate and untruthful – also policy violations – throughout the internal investigation that followed.

Spry was suspended indefinitely last April, about three months after Lockett filed a formal complaint against him. He appealed the suspension this week to an independent arbitrator, who now is reviewing the case. A ruling is expected in the summer.

“We strongly dispute the conclusions reached by the chief,” John Cullar, the Waco-based attorney representing Spry, said Friday. “We believe that the evidence as it was presented [during the two-day arbitration hearing] suggests that there is reason to dispute what the chief said in the letter.”

Lockett was trying to follow an ambulance carrying her brother Harvey Allen – who had been fatally shot – when Spry approached the front of her car with his gun drawn, according to the suspension notice. No other officers at the scene drew their service weapons, the notice states.

Spry contends that he did not point his weapon at Lockett; rather, he pointed it at the hood of her car, his attorney said Friday. He is asking the arbitrator to reinstate him with full back pay and benefits.

According to the suspension notice, Spry first told his supervisors that he drew his weapon because he was in fear of being run over. Police administrators said he later told them he planned to move out of the vehicle’s path and never intended to fire his weapon.

The notice states that Spry also failed to file a “use of force” report, a form the department’s officers are required to complete if they pull their weapon and aim it at someone. Spry did not file such a report, saying he had been told by training officers that he only needed to do so if he pointed his weapon directly at a person.

The suspension notice also states that Spry did not follow supervisors’ orders throughout the investigation and failed a related polygraph test.

The chief said he thought a “lengthy suspension” likely would be the most appropriate way to deal with the excessive force and insubordination violations. But that same punishment could not apply to the truthfulness violation, he said.

“Knowingly making a false statement reflects a character and integrity flaw in former Officer Spry’s performance. We, as a department and organization that relies upon trust of the community, cannot allow an employee to continue that cannot be trusted – even by his own department,” Strope said. “Indefinite suspension was the only option that I had.”

The indefinite suspension sends a message to both the police department and the community that integrity violations won’t be tolerated, the chief said.

But Cullar and Spry dispute the chief’s conclusions. Multiple eyewitnesses recalled the night in question differently, Cullar said Friday, referring to testimony given during the two-day hearing.

One of the officers who insisted that Spry was pointing the gun directly at Lockett was standing farthest from the car, Cullar said. And Lockett testified that it was an officer standing to her left who pointed a gun toward her, not Spry, who was standing in front of the car, Cullar said.

Lockett also testified that she thought Spry had raised a flashlight and not a gun, he said.

“This is a situation where I don’t doubt that any of those people truly believe what they are saying – it’s just what they saw and what really happened are two different things. Their perception is truth to them,” Cullar said. “[Spry] showed the weapon in order to require her to comply with the demand to stop the car. He never intended to fire the weapon. It was not going to be fired. It was simply displayed in order to intimidate her into stopping the car.”

The motorist, an employee at a Dallas topless club, charged that 5-year department veteran Jermaine Thompson threatened to take her to jail unless she showed him her breasts during a Sept. 2004 traffic stop in far northeast Dallas.

The woman told police that Mr. Thompson touched her breasts after she lifted her shirt. Investigators verified that the officer’s car was where the woman said it was by reviewing the car’s electronic tracking system data.

The woman also said Mr. Thompson later showed up at the club where she worked, tried to get in free and groped her again.

Mr. Thompson was charged with improper sexual activity with a person in custody and faced up to two years in a state jail. He waived his right to a jury trial and was found not guilty by District Judge Keith Dean.

Mr. Thompson’s attorney, Tom Pappas, argued that the woman’s trial testimony differed from statements she originally made to investigators and that details of the police investigation did not corroborate her account.

Mr. Thompson was fired in December after his Sept. 2005 indictment. Mr. Pappas said the officer will not work to get his job back.

Houston Police Department supervisors suspended Mary Childs-Henry, Joseph Chu and Raynard Cockrell after an independent team of experts found they had failed to report evidence that could have helped defendants and that they made errors in DNA and serology tests.

HPD had attempted to discipline the three longtime crime-lab employees for mistakes that ranged from bungling evidence in a capital murder case to failing to cooperate with internal investigations of the crime-lab debacle. Each time, the analysts received reduced punishment after appealing to a review panel.

In fact, most other crime-lab employees who have appealed disciplinary action in the three years since HPD’s forensic work first came under scrutiny also have succeeded — even Christy Kim, the analyst fired for her shoddy work in the wrongful rape conviction of Josiah Sutton. They largely have argued that the crime lab’s deficiencies were systemic and individual analysts did not have the power to correct them.

The difficulty in firing Kim, who won reinstatement and then retired, angered Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt. Both expressed hope last week that any future discipline of crime-lab employees will not be overturned.

“In public safety, part of the standard for performance should be based on the credibility of the people involved,” White said. “And for certain functions, there should not be any doubts. I do not want a guilty person to escape the judgment of a jury because of some attack by a skillful criminal defense attorney on the records of any individual at the crime lab.”

The panel that heard analysts’ appeals, the three-member city Civil Service Commission, is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. White’s predecessor, Mayor Lee Brown, appointed the members who have heard all of the crime-lab cases to date.

White recently made a new appointment, however, and expects soon to make a second. He said that though he supports the civil service system, it should not stand in the way of HPD’s effort to regain public confidence.

The ongoing investigations into the work of Childs-Henry, Chu and Cockrell, who were suspended last month in anticipation of the latest crime-lab investigators’ report, may once again test whether HPD can uphold discipline against lab employees.

Report cites ‘major issues’

The report, released last week, cited “major issues” in the performance of DNA and serology tests. Serology, the analysis of body fluids, was a precursor to DNA testing.

After he was briefed on the investigators’ findings, Hurtt moved to suspend the analysts with pay and opened an internal probe into whether they should be disciplined.

Cockrell and Chu declined to comment to the Chronicle. Phone calls to Childs-Henry were not returned.

According to the team of experts reviewing cases for independent investigator Michael Bromwich, Childs-Henry reported that DNA tests in the 1995 sexual assault case against Garland Davis were inconclusive when, in fact, they excluded him as a contributor to samples of evidence from the crime scene.

Childs-Henry, who has worked in the lab for 13 years, performed a highly discriminating DNA analysis on two evidence samples collected with a rape kit and one from the victim’s clothes, the investigators reported. She obtained strong results indicating the presence of a male — but not Davis — on all three samples, the experts said.

Rather than report those findings, however, Childs-Henry said she obtained no results, the investigators said.

In the same case, Chu used a less-discriminating DNA test and obtained results that may have included Davis as a suspect, investigators said. Those results were reported as definitively including him, according to the report, with no mention of the other, more discriminating and exculpatory findings.

Davis pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Experts also said that Chu overstated the strength of his test results in a capital murder case and a sexual assault case. In addition, they reported that Cockrell, who joined the lab in 1995, never reported potentially exculpatory DNA test results from a murder that was cited in the penalty phase of Franklin Alix’s capital murder trial.

Results left out of report

Cockrell’s analyses did not detect Alix’s DNA on samples from the crime, but those results were not included in the final report, which Cockrell did not write. Alix is awaiting execution.

Though Bromwich’s team named these three and other analysts in its report, he said last week that he did not recommend the suspensions.

“As our reports make clear, the problems in serology and DNA are more properly characterized as systemic breakdowns in training, supervision and oversight rather than isolated acts of individual misconduct,” he said. “Specifically, we have not found any intentional misconduct on the part of the three suspended employees.”

The instances highlighted in Bromwich’s latest report are not the first time Childs-Henry, Chu or Cockrell have been cited.

Childs-Henry played a key role in the 1996 case of Lynn Jones, who sat in the Harris County Jail for nine months while the crime lab failed to perform DNA tests on a sample that eventually cleared him, according to depositions in a lawsuit and an internal HPD memo.

Jones, accused of raping a 14-year-old girl, was held while the crime lab was supposed to be processing evidence from his case. Childs-Henry had samples for more than three months before she analyzed them and was unable to obtain results when she did, according to a memo by a crime-lab supervisor.

Jones was released after another analyst performed tests that eliminated him as a suspect, but his ordeal prompted then-Police Chief Sam Nuchia to order an audit.

More recently, the Police Department attempted to suspend Childs-Henry for three days in 2004 because she improperly packaged evidence from a rape kit and “possibly cross-contaminated evidence,” according to the letter notifying her of the suspension. After she appealed, maintaining that she was following lab protocols, the Civil Service Commission reduced her suspension to a written reprimand.

Chu, a 16-year crime-lab veteran, faced a 14-day suspension in 2003 for a variety of errors, such as botched statistical calculations, in four cases including two capital murders. After appealing, he received a written reprimand, according to civil service records.

Cockrell fought a two-day suspension for not cooperating with internal affairs investigators’ inquiry about the lab’s problems and received no disciplinary action.

 In a letter after the meeting, the analysts described the division as a “total disaster.”

Bradford has said he never received the letter.

Fred Keys, the attorney for Chu and his colleague, Kim, called the crime lab’s woes systemic and that top Police Department officials, not lower-ranking analysts, should be held accountable.

At the time of their hearings, he said, “You can delegate authority but not responsibility.”

Now, however, information released to Fort Worth Weekly under the state open records law shows that the 43-year-old motorist was shot 25 times with the 50,000-volt weapons — shocks that in some cases lasted as long as 11 seconds at a time, for a total of more than two minutes in which electricity was being coursed through his body.

What’s more, the officer who started the chase — and did most of the tasering — acknowledged in the records that, before he started tasering Hammock, the 6’ 1’’ overweight architect’s most aggressive move, when Hammock was already leaning over and sweating and breathing heavily, was to jerk his arm away from the officer’s grasp and put it back on his knee while he tried to catch his breath. An autopsy would later show he had taken cocaine that evening.

“I was just trying to get him arrested,” the officer told investigators, in explanation of his actions.

 After Hammock was cuffed and in obvious respiratory distress, records show, it was several more minutes before an ambulance was called, and then another 15 minutes before Hammock was loaded into the ambulance to be taken to JPS Hospital.

 Fort Worth police did not respond to the Weekly’s requests for comments on the report. Nor did the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office, which ruled Hammock’s death the result of an accidental cocaine overdose.

TASER International, which manufactures the Taser weapons, also failed to return calls seeking comment. But since Hammock’s death — one in a list of more than 150 deaths of persons shortly after being tasered — the company has changed its claims about the laser weapon. The company, which is being sued by Hammock’s widow Kathi, no longer call them “non-lethal” but now refers to Tasers as “less lethal” weapons. And TASER has added a warning to its web page, noting that prolonged or repeated use of the weapon on a person may “contribute to … medical risk” and, in combination with other factors, “may result in serious injury or death.”

 For Kathi Hammock, the new report just intensified feelings of having had her husband stolen from her. “I just want everybody to know that what was done to my husband was wrong,” she said. “And I don’t want it happening to anybody else. Me and my daughter are spending our first Christmas without him. They don’t realize what they took from me.”

 Hammock is one of three people who died in an eight-month period after being hit with Tasers by Fort Worth police. In all three cases, autopsies showed the victims had taken illegal drugs — part of a marked pattern across the country in which deaths have closely followed when persons on drugs were hit by Tasers. In none of the Fort Worth cases did the deceased person have a weapon, although all three had refused to follow officers’ commands or had resisted arrest. None was engaged in violent crime before officers began attempting to make the arrest.

 Hammock was on his way home to Midland from Louisiana on the night of April 3, when he took the Riverside Drive exit off I-30 in Fort Worth and pulled through the open gates of a Waste Management facility parking lot where Fort Worth Police Officer C.P. Birley was moonlighting as a guard. Birley, sitting in his truck, waved at Hammock to stop him from entering the private property. Whether or not he saw the officer, Hammock left almost immediately. He drove around a building and reappeared in a few seconds. As Hammock headed back out, Birley, in uniform and out of his vehicle, waved to him to stop, but the architect ignored him and headed south on Riverside Drive.

 Birley followed him and called for backup, because Hammock had trespassed and then failed to follow his orders to stop. In the next few minutes, as the slow chase wound through a neighborhood, Birley said Hammock committed no traffic violations. But when the architect wound up at a dead end, he got out of his car and again refused Birley’s order to stop, instead walking, then running away, down a railroad track.

Birley finally caught up with Hammock a couple of blocks later. Police records recount how the officer found an out-of-shape Hammock leaning forward, his hands on his knees, sweating, and breathing heavily. Birley tried to grab hold of Hammock’s right arm, but he jerked it away.

 What followed were several minutes in which Hammock, after a warning, was tasered repeatedly. At one point he dropped to his knees, but then “started swinging his arms” at the officer, got up, was tasered again, got up again and started running, and then, when he grabbed a tree and wouldn’t let go, was stunned several more times. Again he got up and walked away and got tasered again. He was stunned several more times as he lay on the ground because he wouldn’t unclench his arms from beneath his chest so that he could be handcuffed.

 Birley said he remembered shooting Hammock with the laser weapon “five or six” times, but the computer chip in his weapon told a different story. It recorded Birley’s weapon as having been discharged 20 times that night, including 11 times in the first two minutes, for five to 11 seconds at a time.

Asked if the repeated shocks had any effect on Hammock, Birley responded, “It had enough effect … he dropped to his knees. But when he dropped to his knees, he started swinging his arms at me. And that’s when I stepped back, because I didn’t want to get hit, and I put a cartridge on, and I shot him with the cartridge.”

 Birley said Hammock only swung at him when the architect was on his knees, and once more when he was on his feet. “[T]o be honest with you, I can’t really say I was in fear for my life,” he said. “I was just trying to get him arrested.”

Asked whether Hammock ever made a move to his pockets as if to get a weapon, or whether Birley thought he might have a weapon, he said: “No. No.”

Eventually, after the repeated shocks, Birley managed to drag Hammock into a clearing, as other officers arrived on the scene. But Hammock, on his stomach, kept his arms beneath him. So Birley stunned him three more times. Then Officer Rachel Sevasin hit him five times with her weapon. In a 39-second period, Hammock was tasered for 28 seconds. At the end of it, he was cuffed.

At that point, Birley said in the report, “there was no response in his eyes.” Sevasin noted that the architect “had become pale.” Less than an hour later, after he had stopped breathing at the scene and received CPR, he was declared dead.

 By Birley’s own admission, Hammock’s only crimes were momentarily trespassing (though he left when told to) on the Waste Management lot, then refusing to be arrested. In his tussles with Hammock, Birley received only a scratch on the leg, which he said probably came from foliage while grabbing Hammock in the trees. Birley was cleared of any wrongdoing by both a grand jury and the police department’s internal discipline process. Sevasin, who stunned Hammock five times while he lay on the ground face down, has also been cleared.

 Edward Jackson, spokesman for Amnesty International, which has done extensive research on Taser use and abuse, said his organization understands that, “any time a person doesn’t comply with direct orders given by the police it creates a situation in which the police could be in danger. And they’ve got a right to respond on an equal level to the danger posed to them.

“On the other hand, in a situation where an unarmed suspect is not on the attack, a situation in which the suspect is simply not complying quickly enough with an order, well, rational people have to question the logic of shocking someone like that 25 times.”

12/31/2005 – A Travis County grand jury indicted two Austin police officers and a former officer Friday, accusing them of beating a handcuffed suspect and using their Taser stun guns on him after a minor traffic accident in September.

 Officer Joel Follmer,  officer Christopher Gray and officer William Heilman punched 25-year-old Ramon Hernandez multiple times on the legs and back and shocked him at least once after he was facedown and in handcuffs, police officials said.  

 Hernandez, a quality-control employee for a tech company, suffered a large gash above his eye, several bruises on his body and several weeks of back pain, said his lawyer, Amber Vazquez Bode.

“He was unrecognizable,” she said.

Follmer, who joined the force in July, and Gray, a six-year veteran who was training the rookie, have been suspended without pay. Heilman, who had been with the department for four years and was involved in an on-duty shooting earlier this year, resigned Dec. 2. Each faces up to a year in jail if convicted of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor.

Prosecutors said other charges are possible but declined to elaborate.

“I’m very disappointed we would have a situation like this happen,” Assistant Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom said Friday. “I’m sad for the officers, sad for the department and sad for the victim.”

Terry Keel, an attorney and state representative from Austin who is representing Follmer, Gray and Heilman, said he hopes for a speedy trial and expects all three to be exonerated.

“The indictments of these officers represent a terrible injustice,” he said. “These officers acted honorably and with great courage. . . . They fought for their lives to subdue a criminal suspect.”

 Department leaders said the indictments came after a routine review of the Sept. 21 incident in the 8200 block of Burnet Road in North Austin. Part of the incident was recorded by patrol car cameras.

The review led supervisors to think the officers might have violated department policy and the law, so they sent the information to the Travis County district attorney’s office. They also began an internal affairs investigation, which is not complete.

Authorities have declined to release copies of the videos, citing the investigation.

According to an affidavit, which is based on the officers’ statements, Hernandez left an accident scene, and Heilman found him minutes later about a block away on Buell Avenue, kneeling with his head on the ground. The affidavit said Hernandez refused to stand up, and a struggle ensued. Heilman said Hernandez hit him several times and tried to take his gun.

 Dahlstrom said Heilman called for backup and that Follmer and Gray, who were riding in the same patrol car, were the first to arrive.

Dahlstrom said the officers eventually handcuffed Hernandez and placed him facedown on the ground. At this point, they had moved in range of the patrol car camera.

Dahlstrom said Gray and Follmer punched Hernandez several times — Gray hit him in the back, and Follmer struck his legs — and that Heilman shocked Hernandez with his Taser. Gray also used his Taser during the incident, but Dahlstrom said he did not know whether Hernandez was in handcuffs at that point.

Department policy prohibits officers from shocking handcuffed suspects.

Police took Hernandez to Brackenridge Hospital and later to the Travis County Jail, where they charged him with attempting to take a police officer’s weapon and assault on a public servant — both felonies — and two misdemeanor charges of failure to stop and render aid and evading detention.

 The grand jury declined Friday to indict Hernandez on the felony charges. The misdemeanor charges are pending.

Keel, a former prosecutor and Travis County sheriff, said Hernandez “aggressively charged” toward Heilman, who used his Taser twice to try to subdue him.

 Keel, who has not seen the videotapes from the patrol cars, said that during the struggle, Heilman also used a baton to hit Hernandez “as hard as he could” and that Hernandez continued fighting.

“The suspect told officer Heilman, ‘You’re going to have to kill me,’ pulled out the Taser probes and violently attacked officer Heilman,” Keel said. “Both went to the ground in a violent and protracted struggle.”

“The three officers had trouble controlling him even after leg restraints were applied,” Keel said. “All use of force by the officers was necessary to protect themselves and subdue the suspect.”

 Keel said prosecutors handling the case have misinter- preted state laws concerning officers’ use of force, which he said allows them to use any force necessary to repel aggression. Keel also said the officers were prevented from fully explaining themselves to grand jurors.

Assistant Travis County District Attorney Patty Robertson said, “We are limited in what we can say after indictment and prior to trial.”

 Keel said Hernandez told the officers and paramedics that he was high on “ice” — a form of methamphetamine. Vazquez Bode, Hernandez’s lawyer, said he tested negative for drugs immediately after the incident.

She said Hernandez rear-ended a woman’s car after reaching for his cell phone to call his wife and left the accident scene to collect his thoughts and pray.

Vazquez Bode described Hernandez as “a devout Christian who doesn’t drink, smoke or use drugs.” She said Hernandez has no criminal record and that Heilman attacked Hernandez, who she said is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and weighs about 125 pounds, without provocation.

 “Any baseless attacks on my client’s character by the criminal defense attorney for the officers will be shown to have no merit,” she said. “It’s going to be extremely clear what happened in this process and how victimized my client was.”

Austin Police Association President Mike Sheffield was more reserved about his opinion.

“We haven’t seen the evidence,” he said. “The grand jury has, and they made the decision to move this forward.”

 According to department records, Gray and Heilman each have filed 20 use-of-force reports during their tenures. Follmer, a former Travis County probation officer, has filed one in his five months with the department.

Details of those incidents were not available Friday. A typical officer filed about seven use-of-force reports from 1998 to 2003.

 Heilman had been on restricted duty since October, when he shot a man inside a North Austin house after the man refused to take his hands out of his pockets and repeatedly told officers to “shoot.” The man, who was found to have two knives, survived the gunshot wound to his cheek.

Heilman was not indicted in that case.


 December 14, 2005 – BRAZORIA — A part-time Brazoria police officer arrested on a driving while intoxicated charge is no longer on the city payroll after the city secretary received the officer’s resignation paperwork Tuesday, City Manager Thom Smyser said.

“All I know is he resigned for personal reasons,” Smyser said.

Randy Lee Davis, 36, of Freeport was arrested by Department of Public Safety troopers about midnight Friday, two hours after Freeport police, acting on a domestic disturbance complaint, pulled Davis over in the Brazoria Police Department truck he was driving.

 Davis had been the city’s environmental enforcement officer for about two years and also worked part-time as a patrol officer in the city, Smyser said.

 Although Smyser said he thought it unnecessary for the city to conduct an investigation, Police Chief Neal Longbotham will continue to investigate any city violations, Longbotham said. Smyser said he is in contact with the city attorney to provide The Facts with Davis’ personnel file.

“It’s hard for me to give comments when I’m conducting the investigation,” said Longbotham, who would not speak about Davis’ work history. “I’ll turn my findings over to the city manager, and if he’s not in, I’ll turn it over to the mayor.”

 “What happened is very unfortunate,” Corley said. “I thought Randy Davis to be an excellent employee of the city.”

 City Council will have a workshop, hopefully before Christmas, to sit down with Longbotham and two candidates for the now vacant environmental enforcement officer position, Corley said.
DPS Sgt. Randy Jones went to look for the truck Davis was driving and notified troopers to do the same after Jones received a call from Davis’ wife Thursday evening, Jones has said. The woman told Jones that Davis pointed a gun at her, choked her and pointed the weapon at her daughter when the girl tried to call 911, Jones said Friday.

Freeport Police Chief Henrietta Gonzalez told The Facts on Friday that Freeport police pulled Davis over but had no indication Davis had been drinking before he was stopped.

 Davis was charged with a misdemeanor DWI because it is a first offense, Jones said. He was released Friday from the Brazoria County Detention Center after posting $1,500 bail. As a condition of his bail, he is not allowed to be within 1,000 feet of his wife or to contact her.


  January 28, 2005 – VANCOUVER – A Vancouver man has won an out-of-court settlement from the RCMP after an incident in which he says he was illegally searched.

Under Canadian law, that kind of search is illegal.

What upset the Laing even more is that some the officers he tangled with were actually American police officers.

Last spring, Laing was driving on a highway near Hope. He turned a corner and a man in an orange traffic vest in the middle of the road motioned him to pull over. In a heavy Texas accent, the man asked for Laing’s identification.

Laing asked if the man was an American. The man answered that he was, and that he was performing a B.C. road check.

“I said, are you a police officer? Who are you to be detaining me?” The man was a Texas state trooper. The RCMP brought the Texans up to help them learn how to identify drug traffickers.

Laing refused to let the officers search his car. He knew that under Canadian law, police officers don’t have the right to preform that kind of search. Laing is a Vancouver cop.

Less than a minute after Laing drove away, another Texas trooper – paired with an RCMP officer – pulled him over. This time Laing was told he was under the influence of marijuana. Laing’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, says it was all preposterous.

Laing agreed to the search, but was told he couldn’t take his son from the vehicle. He was horrified as he watched the Mountie search his two-year-old. The police found no drugs, and despite saying he was impaired just moments earlier, let him go.

RCMP spokesperson Const. John Ward says the Texas troopers profiling program provides great help to the Mounties.

“The Americans do a lot of this and have been doing it for quite some time. So there’s a lot of opportunity on both sides of the border to become closer.”

Laing and his lawyer disagree. They say that when it comes to narcotics, American attitudes and Canadian laws are quite different.

“We have different freedoms than they have,” Laing says. “You don’t want to mesh too much. You don’t want your police meshing to the point where we start taking on other police jurisidiction’s policies.”
The RCMP settled with Laing out of court when he threatened to sue for unlawful detention. But the Mounties defend the search, saying Laing was suspicious because his eyelashes were fluttering and his eyes were flashing.

Murray Mollard of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association says police shouldn’t be depending on clues like that. He says that it’s not a scientifically reliable method.

The RCMP also says Laing was evasive when asked about his job. Laing says he didn’t want to tell them he’s a Vancouver cop.

“To me it’s irrelevant,” he says. “I’m a father with his son going to look at property. I’m not in the course of duty – I don’t deserve privileges of any type.”

Mollard says Laing’s case presents a series of concerns – from using unreliable profiling techniques to a wrongful vehicle search, not to mention using an American police officer to pull over Canadians.