Houston officer kills unarmed man walking with trousers down

28 March 2018


Media captionVideo shows unarmed man before fatal shooting

A US police officer shot dead an unarmed man walking in traffic with his trousers down, and his family says it looks like “premeditated murder”.

Police dashcam video shows Danny Ray Thomas, 34, walking towards the officer on a road in Houston, Texas, last Thursday before a gunshot rings out.

Deputy Cameron Brewer repeatedly shouts “get down on the ground” before firing.

Mr Thomas’ family say he suffered from depression after his children died.

His sister, Kita Thomas-Smith, attended a Houston City Council meeting on Tuesday where she tearfully urged politicians do to something about “police brutality”.

Mayor Sylvester Turner told her: “I certainly feel your pain. We are certainly sorry for any life that is taken.”

Outside city hall, Ms Thomas-Smith told the Houston Chronicle of the dashcam video. “It feels like premeditated murder.

“He was clearly walking, not running, toward the deputy not trying to hurt or harm him.”

Deputy Brewer, who had a Taser with him, has been placed on administrative leave as police investigate the shooting.

Houston Police Department said in a statement last week that Mr Thomas was found “walking in the middle of the intersection” of a busy road in the city.

Deputy Brewer noticed him with “his pants around his ankles, talking to himself and hitting vehicles as they passed by”.

“Thomas then struck a white vehicle, and the driver exited and engaged in a physical altercation with the suspect,” Houston police said.

The Harris County Sheriff’s deputy saw the fracas and stopped his car to intervene.

“Fearing for his safety, the deputy discharged his duty weapon, striking Thomas once in the chest,” said Houston police, which is leading the investigation.

In a different video taken by a bystander and published by the Chronicle last week, onlookers at a bus stop are heard laughing as they predict the officer will use a stun gun on the jaywalker.

“He’s about to get tased,” says Kaaryn Young as she films.

Gunfire rings out.

She is heard asking in disbelief: “He shot that man?

“He should have gotten tased!

“He shouldn’t have shot that man in the street.”

According to relatives, Mr Thomas’ partner murdered his two children in 2016.

She is awaiting trial for the deaths, which happened while Mr Thomas was in prison serving a three-year drug-related sentence.

28 March 2018, BBC, “Houston officer kills unarmed man walking with trousers down”, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-43574249


Nearly half of Llano police force indicted, accused of misconduct


Katie Hall, January 31, 2018


Llano’s police chief and three officers were indicted for their roles in the May 2017 arrest of a man.

Chief Kevin Ratliff and officers Aimee Shannon, Grant Harden and Jared Latta are all on leave.

A grand jury on Wednesday indicted the Llano police chief and three of his officers on charges of unlawfully arresting a man in May. A fourth officer also was indicted on charges in a separate incident, but she left the force last summer.

Chief Kevin Ratliff and officers Aimee Shannon, Grant Harden and Jared Latta — who make up almost half of the police department in Llano, a town about 60 miles northwest of Austin — were indicted on a charge of official oppression, a Class A misdemeanor. Harden also was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a government record to defraud or harm the person he arrested, court records say.

Additionally, former officer Melissa Sloan was indicted Wednesday on a charge of tampering with evidence and accused of destroying a digital recording of a drug crime scene on March 26. Sloan was let go from the department in June, according to The Picayune newspaper in Marble Falls.

The indictment regarding the chief and the three officers accuses them of unlawfully arresting Cory Nutt on May 2. Harden failed to state in his police report that “Nutt was inside his residence when he was arrested” or “that Cory Nutt was forced out of his residence and arrested,” the indictment says.

READ MORE: Half of Llano police force is on leave in Texas Rangers investigation

Shannon is also accused of “threatening to shoot (Nutt) with a Taser,” mistreatment that Shannon knew was unlawful, her indictment alleges.

Nutt was charged with public intoxication in the incident, but that charge was later dropped, said Ratliff’s attorney, Austin Shell. Nutt was outside his home, a camper, during part of his encounter with the officers, Shell said.

“It’s my belief that stepping up into the camper to arrest this man is what caused the indictment,” and Ratliff stepped up to help Nutt down so Nutt wouldn’t be injured in the process, Shell said.

“It’s the chief’s position that he acted with the utmost discretion,” Shell said. “He was not violent. He didn’t use any sort of force at all. Even though Mr. Nutt was very intoxicated, Chief Ratliff behaved the way an officer would be expected to act.”

Harden’s attorney, Travis Williamson, said he believes the charges will not hold up in court.

“Although the four officers were indicted, I believe once the case goes to a jury in an open and public setting, I have every confidence that all four of them will be vindicated and they’ll be found not guilty,” Williamson said.

Williamson said he doesn’t think prosecutors will be able to show that the chief and these officers intentionally violated the law.

“Even if you’re mistaken about what rights as a police officer you have in searching a home and making an arrest, the state has to prove you knew it was a violation, and I just don’t believe the state’s going to come anywhere close to proving that,” Williamson said.

Ratliff, Shannon, Harden and Latta were all placed on leave while the incident is investigated. City officials have appointed officer Kenneth Poe as interim chief.

Harden was already on leave after a grand jury indicted him in December and accused him of tampering with dashboard camera footage during a DWI investigation in June 2017, according to a report from The Picayune newspaper in Marble Falls.


Katie Hall, January 31, 2018, American Statesman, “Nearly half of Llano police force indicted, accused of misconduct”, http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state–regional/nearly-half-llano-police-force-indicted-accused-misconduct/N7DYj5OUxdJUMLS0JmkWfM/

Fired cop whose on-camera arrest of Austin teacher went viral had a long history of violence

February 5, 2018, by Chris Harris

On January 22, 2018, Bryan Richter, an officer with the Austin Police Department (APD), notorious for the brutal 2015 arrest of local school teacher Breaion King, was fired along with another officer for yet another violent arrest. APD changed its use-of-force review policy based on Richter’s abuse of King, so it was only fitting that Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley announced Richter’s firing during a press conference outlining the department’s new de-escalation policy. If the story of Bryan Richter can teach us anything, it’s that while police policies and officers come and go, the broken culture of policing persists. Austin needs to radically overhaul citizen oversight of police and how it allocates public safety funds to meaningfully combat rampant, largely race-based police violence.

Bryan Richter had a considerable history of violent behavior as an officer that, had it been addressed properly, might have prevented scores of brutal incidents, including King’s arrest. As far back as 2012, internal police reviews released by the Austin American-Statesman noted that Richter led his region in use-of-force incidents along with having been implicated in three officer-involved shootings by that point. Despite this dubious distinction, he had not been deemed to have violated any department policy. A police culture of impunity was teaching Richter that he could get away with violence unscathed, so predictably, he continued to be violent.

A 2013 analysis of arrests involving Richter, comparing him with five other officers from the same police academy class and patrol area, showed that he used force 75 percent more often than his peers on average – or 17.5 percent of arrests versus 10 percent. Nonetheless, his sergeant wrote an unsolicited letter to his commander defending him that claimed paradoxically that he was “near the average.” According to records obtained by KXAN, from 2006-2016 Richter charged more people with “resisting arrest” than any other Austin police officer though he only joined the force in late 2009.

While the release of dashcam video of his brutal treatment of Breaion King brought national notoriety and strong condemnation from then-Police Chief Art Acevedo, his direct superiors saw little wrong with his actions in their immediate aftermath, giving him a slap on the wrist. By the time the Chief and the rest of the world knew what he’d done nearly a year later, no discipline could be imposed due to the 180-day statute of limitations on police misconduct under state law, which was explicitly maintained in the old Austin police union contract. Again, Richter’s violence was protected by the police, and the likelihood he would commit future violence was increased.

Even after the release of the King video, many in the department continued to defend him. In August of 2017, during the negotiations between the police union and the city for a new contract, Austin Police Association (APA) president Ken Casaday famously proclaimed that half of the department didn’t see anything wrong with Richter’s actions in the King case, including “two well-respected commanders.”

Given how favorably many Austin police view what to the world is clearly police brutality, it should come as no surprise that in this most recent incident, Richter stepped on the head of a suspect with all of his body weight. He’d been taught from the beginning that his violent tactics were in alignment with police policy, near the average and not worthy of punishment. The only real surprise is that he lied about this latest assault in his reports.

Despite it all, he continues to be defended by a police force that can’t recognize brutality when it slaps us in the face. Case in point, in response to Richter’s firing, Casaday called this discipline, without a hint of irony, “excessive.” Now, as he appeals his firing, police will again come to his aid and the history of APD leniency towards violent cops will depressingly comprise his best defense. As multiple news outlets put it, “Officer Richter will likely claim as part of his appeal that his punishment was too excessive and that other officers who have done the same thing were allowed to keep their jobs.”

While Richter’s time off of the police force may be short-lived, it’s still important. As Breaion King said in response to his firing, “knowing that he is no longer out there hurting other people and he can no longer hurt me, I feel more at peace.” However, as a city we must also confront the larger systems that enabled and protected Richter for so long. As King’s lawyer, Erica Grigg, correctly commented “…the bigger issue we need to be talking about is why did it take so long for Officer Richter to be disciplined?”  With a police culture so hellbent on defending police violence, firing individual officers isn’t enough.

Fortunately, with the collapse of the old police contract, the City of Austin now has a real opportunity to address our serious lack of police accountability, oversight and transparency.

Austin’s citizen oversight bodies had no role in either bringing Richter’s behavior to light or in the “indefinite suspension” (aka firing) that he ultimately received. Even prior to the APA’s December decision to abruptly walk away from contract negotiations and leave Austin’s police oversight regime in peril, the Office of the Police Monitor and (now defunct) Citizen Review Panel, as constructed, were powerless to either warn the community about Richter or even recommend discipline for his repeated use of excessive force.

Therefore, a new, more independent and transparent citizen oversight body must be created. It must be specifically authorized to both receive and fully investigate complaints against officers, and to make public all that it uncovers. With a truly empowered citizen oversight body, we can improve accountability by eliminating the secrecy that emboldens violent cops and allows their superiors to repeatedly sweep their brutality under the rug. Many other cities are already doing this, and we need to catch up.

Next, we need City Council to allocate the millions of dollars that the APA walked away from to addressing the public health issues at the root of a lot of public safety concerns. We’ve got the highest paid officers in the state but we’ve not kept pace with spending for health and human services. Drastically reducing police involvement in homelessness, drug addiction, mental health crises, immigration and juvenile justice will not only allow our City to fund programs better designed to address these issues, it’s the only way to truly ensure a reduction in traumatizing and potentially deadly police encounters.

February 5, 2018, by Chris Harris, “Fired cop whose on-camera arrest of Austin teacher went viral had a long history of violence”, https://grassrootsleadership.org/blog/2018/02/fired-cop-whose-camera-arrest-austin-teacher-went-viral-had-long-history-violence

Kameron Prescott: Anger as police kill Texas child

Death of Kameron Prescott by sheriff’s deputies in southern state renews debate over deadly police encounters in US.

A crowdfunding campaign has raised $13,736 to pay for Prescott's funeral [Courtesy: Gofundme]
A crowdfunding campaign has raised $13,736 to pay for Prescott’s funeral [Courtesy: Gofundme]

The fatal shooting of a six-year-old boy by police gunfire in the US state of Texas has sparked outrage and renewed the debate over police brutality in the country.

Kameron Prescott was killed on Thursday in the small town of Schertz in Bexar County, after a stray bullet shot by a sheriff’s deputy pierced through the wall of his mobile home and hit his abdomen.

A suspected car thief – a 30-year-old woman identified as Amanda Lee Jones – was also killed by police as she tried to break into Prescott’s home.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar described Prescott’s death as “a tragic accident” and said the shooting is under investigation.

Americans and their guns


Americans and their guns

The incident is the latest in a series of deaths at the hands of police officers in the US.

A total of 952 people have been shot and killed by US police in 2017, according to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database.


Victims of police brutality are often children.

In May, police officers in a Dallas suburb shot and killed Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black American, for “aggressively reversing” towards them. Video footage later contradicted the officials’ claims.

Gun violence and fatal police encounters have led to widespread protests in recent years.

Following news of Prescott’s shooting, many took to Twitter to condemn his death, which came just days before Christmas.

Meanwhile, others criticised the US police force and called for reform.

A crowdfunding campaign was launched on Gofundme to pay for Prescott’s funeral. A total of $13,736 was raised in two days, exceeding the goal of $12,000.

According to the Guardian newspaper’s The Counted database, at least 1,092 people were killed by police in the US in 2016.

Of that total, nearly a quarter were African Americans, although the group only accounts for roughly 12 percent of the total US population.

In a high-profile case in 2016, the aftermath of the shooting of black motorist Philando Castile by a Minnesota officer was streamed live on Facebook.

The killing of another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by white police led to a wave of protests across the country.

, Al Jazeera, “Kameron Prescott: Anger as police kill Texas child”, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/kameron-prescott-anger-police-bullet-kills-child-171224091628070.html

Police Union Pushes Back on Body Cameras in El Paso, Texas

Union leaders say policies and privacy concerns must be addressed before the technology is implemented.

by Elida S. Perez, El Paso Times / December 11, 2017


(TNS) — When city Rep. Henry Rivera, a former El Paso police officer, advocated that the city apply for a state grant to obtain body cameras for police officers, he thought the idea was simple: there’s money available, go apply for it.

Cities nationwide are increasingly outfitting their police departments with body cameras, many in light of concerns about police brutality and officer-involved shootings.

Across Texas, cities like Dallas, Houston and Austin have already rolled out body camera programs. And in the border region, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, Horizon city and neighboring Las Cruces, N.M., have also implemented body camera programs for law enforcement.

But El Paso Police Department and police union leaders are pushing back against a proposal that would require officers to wear body cameras, saying other funding priorities and policy and privacy concerns must first be addressed.

They say they are not opposed to the cameras, but that the city shouldn’t rush into acquiring them without first studying how to pay for them and how to implement and manage them in the long term. They also say hiring more officers and buying new police cars and updated radios should remain a top funding priority.

And, the police union said it is concerned that officers may unfairly face disciplinary action if the technology malfunctions or a private conversation over the course of a work day is caught on tape, for example.

“We have some administrative concerns over their usage — like when are they going to be turned on? When are they going to be turned off?” El Paso Municipal Police Officers Association President Ron Martin said. “I do not want my officers recorded 24/7.”

Martin said sometimes emergency situations unfold so quickly that an officer may not have time to turn on the camera, which he fears may be seen as an attempt to hide what occurred.

“What happens if I’m driving and somebody jumps out of the car and you get into a scuffle instantly?” Martin said. “’Well hold on sir — let me turn my body camera on so it can show what you are doing to me.’”

Body camera policies are not new in the border region.

El Paso County Sheriff’s deputies, Horizon City Police Department officers and the City of Socorro Police Department already wear the cameras.

The traffic unit at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department has been using the cameras since 2008, and the rest of the patrol units began using them in 2016.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Tom Whitten said the department got a bundle deal with a company called Axon for 250 cameras, unlimited data storage and 375 Tasers for $300,000 per year under a five-year contract.

Whitten said the sheriff’s department hasn’t had to hire staff to manage storage since it’s cloud-based. Deputies upload footage and the district attorney has access to the files.

“For us, it’s nothing short of fantastic,” Whitten said.

Horizon City Police Chief Mike McConnell said his department has been using cameras for about five years and houses data in-house rather than in a cloud-based storage system.

McConnell said the department is currently changing vendors to match its dash-cam system. That switch comes with a price tag of $23,000 for 13 cameras and a data storage boost.

“A high percentage of time … the video camera helps the officer. It doesn’t hurt because the officer should be doing the right thing. Under that theory, it should serve to help (police officers),” McConnell said.

Some area human rights groups argue that the cameras should be a priority for El Paso police.

“What I have seen with federal agents and border patrol and local law enforcement in the last few years is a rampant lack of transparency and accountability to the community,” Border Network for Human Rights Executive Director Fernando Garcia said. “We have been pushing to strengthen these internal accountability measures.”

Garcia said El Paso is one of the safest cities because area law enforcement engages with the community. He said body-worn cameras would strengthen that relationship by showing accountability and transparency.

Garcia said he was disappointed when the City Council voted to delete two items during the Nov. 28 meeting.

The first would have directed the city to seek funding or apply for a one-year state grant that requires a 25 percent match by the police department. The other would have formed a committee that would look into policies for cameras for the department.

City Council instead directed the police department to research the cost for the body cameras and the procedures for using them, a process that Assistant El Paso Police Chief Patrick Maloney said could take up to six months.

Officials said neither the city nor the police department has conducted any official studies on the cameras.

Maloney said the department looked into the grant in 2015 and 2016. He said there was not enough money in the police budget to cover the required match. The department has 1,037 officers, he said.

“To put personnel to task and with that amount of work to do a study (for something) in-depth like that when there’s no funding to move forward on it, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” Maloney said about why the department hasn’t applied for the grant.

Recently, at the request of the police department, the city’s purchasing staff got an estimate from Axon Enterprises, Inc. of Arizona for the potential cost of body cameras, including annual fees for the software license and data storage.

That estimate, which was not part of a formal bid process, was $2.7 million for 500 cameras under a five-year contract, Maloney said.

Axon, an Arizona-based company formerly known as TASER International, serves more than 17,000 law enforcement agencies, according to its website.

City Council will wait for findings from the police department before deciding whether to fund a body camera program, officials said.

Rivera said he wasn’t sure if funding for the El Paso police cameras could come from a tax increase, budget savings or a voter referendum.

But he said trust and accountability are the key reasons he is pushing for the cameras. He also said he believes it would reduce the number of lawsuits filed against the city and police officers.

“With the expenditure comes a cost savings in fewer lawsuits,” Rivera said. He added, “It’s time we start thinking outside the box to the get these things in gear.”

Figures for how many lawsuits have been filed against the El Paso police department were not available, according to city officials.

Martin said he does not think body cameras will reduce the number of lawsuits.

“I heard the same argument 15 to 20 years ago for dash cams, ‘It’s going to protect you guys. You are not going to get sued. Everything is going to get recorded,’” Martin said. “It didn’t reduce anything. It’s the same thing. We have dash cams in every single vehicle we operate in and we still get sued.”

A civil rights lawsuit against the EPPD filed in May claims police have used excessive force against people with signs of mental illness, citing several recent cases. The lawsuit filed by attorneys Enrique Moreno and Lynn Coyle claims that in the 15-year period from 1997 to 2012, there were 32 excessive force cases. That compares to at least 21 in just four years, from 2012 to 2016, the lawsuit states.

The suit cites the case of a suicidal man who died after police shocked him with a Taser in 2015; the fatal shooting of a handcuffed prisoner outside the Downtown jail in 2013; and the shooting of another suicidal man in 2016.

Moreno said it’s difficult to speculate after-the-fact whether cameras would have a made a difference in the litigation, but he believes that both citizens and officers would benefit from having them.

“I think there’s a growing consensus that they are beneficial from multiple perspectives, not just in terms of citizens, but beneficial to police themselves,” Moreno said.

Moreno said he doesn’t understand why the city hasn’t taken the lead in acquiring the cameras.

“I’m very troubled by the suggestion that there’s no money for it,” Moreno said. “When you look at cost, you have to consider someone losing their life. So cost is a much bigger concept than just the price.”


Elida S. Perez, El Paso Times / December 11, 2017, “Police Union Pushes Back on Body Cameras in El Paso, Texas”, http://www.govtech.com/public-safety/Police-Union-Pushes-Back-on-Body-Cameras-in-El-Paso-Texas.html

Police Misconduct Cases Costing Dallas Taxpayers Millions

By Brian New

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In the past five years, the City of Dallas has spent more than $10.8 million to settle lawsuits against Dallas police officers.

Dallas faces millions of dollars more in potential payouts to settle dozens of unresolved claims.

According to records obtained by the CBS11 I-Team, the City of Dallas currently has 38 unresolved liability claims against Dallas police officers, including one stemming from the 2013 shooting of Kelvion Walker by then-Senior Cpl. Amy Wilburn.

Kelvion Walker seeks $10M for 2013 police shooting

walker Police Misconduct Cases Costing Dallas Taxpayers Millions

The police dash-cam video that captured the shooting on December 9, 2013 shows two Dallas police officers in pursuit of a reported stolen vehicle in which Walker was a passenger.

As the driver of the car jumped out and Wilburn’s partner chased him, Wilburn rushed up to driver’s side of the moving vehicle and fired her weapon at Walker.

At the time of the shooting, Walker was still in his seat belt, he was unarmed, and according to an independent witness, Walker had both of his hands up.

Wilburn later said she couldn’t see Walker’s hands.

“I’m just looking at her coming around and it just happened that fast,” Walker told the I-Team. “I was just in shock for a couple of seconds and then I’m like what are you shooting me for. I just look down and see smoke coming out of my body.”

An internal affairs investigation determined Wilburn violated the department’s deadly force policy. She was fired shortly after the shooting. The former police officer is set to go to trial on a criminal assault charge in January.

Walker suffered several internal injuries and underwent three major operations. Doctors told Walker he will have back and leg pain along with other medical complications the rest of his life.

Walker sued Wilburn for damages and is seeking a $10 million settlement.

So far, Walker has not received any compensation from the city.

“They have absolutely taken every chance they can to delay this matter,” said Walker’s attorney, Geoff Henley.

Dallas spent $500K on private law firm to defend fired officer in civil case

While walker has not received any money from the city, the I-Team discovered the city has paid the private law firm of Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin PC so far $503,687 to defend the fired officer in her civil case.

According to city records, the $503,687 expense is the most the city has ever spent on outside legal fees for a single officer misconduct case.

The city said it uses outside legal services in claim cases where there is a potential conflict of interest. In this case, the city’s firing of Wilburn creates a potential conflict of interest.

Additional legal fees in the case are likely, as the case has not yet gone to trial. A judge granted a stay in the civil case until the criminal case against Wilburn concludes.

Cost of police misconduct cases soared in recent years

money chart Police Misconduct Cases Costing Dallas Taxpayers Millions

For perspective, the $503,687 expense for legal fees in Walker v. Wilburn is more money than Dallas spent to settle all seven of its police misconduct claims settled from 2006 to 2011 combined. The city paid out a total of $380,000 to settle those seven claims.

However, in the past five years Dallas spent $10.8-million dollars to settle 23 cases against police officers.

Video effect

Henley, who specializes in civil rights cases, said this surge in payouts does not mean officers are now behaving worse.

“I don’t think there’s been an increase in the violent propensity or unlawful propensity of certain police officers,” he said. “I just think we have better means of documenting those abuses now.”

Experts often refer to this as the “video effect.”

In 2014, Dallas paid a $1.1 million settlement to Ronald Jones after dash-cam video showed an officer beating Jones and wrestling him to the ground,

Jones was jailed on a charge of assaulting the police officer. The charge was dropped when video came to light contradicting the officer’s account

Last year, the city paid out a record $1.6 million to Bobby Bennett for what was captured on his neighbor’s home security camera.

Bennett’s mother called police to help with her mentally ill son. Seconds after officers arrived, one of them shot Bennett in his driveway four times from twenty feet away. Bennett had a small knife in his hand.

Dallas police payouts far exceed Arlington, Fort Worth

The increase in the cost to settle these claims is not unique to Dallas.

Several large cities across the country have also reported paying more in recent years to settle police misconduct cases.

In North Texas, however; other municipalities have not experienced the same type of increase as Dallas.

The City of Arlington has paid out $1.9 million to settle police excess force claims in the past five years.

According to records provided by the city, Fort Worth paid out just $12,000 in law enforcement liability claims in the past five years. Fort Worth, however; would not say how many open cases they have that have not been settled.


Brian New,“Police Misconduct Cases Costing Dallas Taxpayers Millions”, http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2017/08/14/police-misconduct-dallas-taxpayers/

Dallas’ interim police chief fires 4 employees, including officer charged in fatal shooting

Claire Z. Cardona

Dallas’ interim police Chief David Pughes on Wednesday terminated four employees, including an officer charged in a deadly shooting and a 911 call taker.

Officer Christopher Hess is among those who were fired at the hearing. Hess reportedly violated the department’s felony traffic stop policy, use of deadly force policy and placed a person in greater danger than necessary, police said.


Hess was charged last month in the January fatal shooting of 21-year-old Genevive Dawes. Officials said Hess and a second officer responded to a call in Old East Dallas that involved a reportedly stolen vehicle.

When officers showed up, Dawes backed up into their squad car with the vehicle and drove forward into a fence. When she reversed again, officers fired into the vehicle, police said.

A federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed against the city claims that Dawes bought the car a month before the shooting and refutes accounts that she rammed the patrol car.

The suit also says Hess and the other officer fired at least 13 shots into the passenger window, striking Dawes in the neck, right triceps, left arm, chest, right forearm and right earlobe.

Hess has been charged with aggravated assault. The other officer was placed on restricted duty.

Hess was hired in August 2006 and was assigned to the central patrol division.

Also terminated Wednesday was Sr. Cpl. Keith Huber, who was involved in a disturbance on May 11, 2016, in which Midlothian police were called.

In December, Huber was arrested on a charge from September of injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury.  He is accused of beating the child who was younger than 14 with a surge protector, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported. 

An investigation also showed Huber violated the administrative leave policy from Dec. 22 to Dec. 28, police said.

Huber, a 16-year veteran of the department, was assigned to the central patrol division.

Pughes also terminated Officer Holly Carter, a three-year veteran of the department who was involved in an auto accident in September in Lancaster and failed to stop and render aid. Instead, she reportedly went to a nearby gas station to check on her vehicle, WFAA reported.

The investigation also found that in December, Carter provided inconsistent or misleading information in an internal statement.

Carter had been assigned to the southeast patrol division.


Tony Marzett, a 911 call taker, was also terminated Wednesday. He was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury in April on a charge of aggravated assault causing severe bodily injury for a incident on New Year’s Eve at an Irving Walgreens.

Marzett reportedly started yelling at a woman for taking too long to get out of her vehicle. He then pushed the woman to the ground and punched her in the face when she stood back up, according to court documents. The woman fell backwards, breaking her arm in two places.

Marzett, who was hired in March 2008, admitted in an interview to hitting the woman in the face.

The four employees have the right to appeal.



Arrest affidavit details sexual abuse allegation against Marlin police captain

  • Jun 29, 2017

An arrest affidavit and complaint filed against a Marlin police captain details sexual abuse of a woman who feared the captain would arrest her if she did not capitulate to his requests, because she had entered the country illegally.

Hector Gonzalez

Hector Almazan Gonzalez, 51, of Marlin, was arrested Wednesday by the Texas Rangers on a second-degree felony charge of sexual assault. Marlin Mayor John Keefer said Gonzalez resigned after his arrest Wednesday night.

“The only statement we are making at this point is that he has officially resigned. He resigned at 7:55 p.m. last night to the city manager,” Keefer said Thursday. “At this point, that has just been a verbal (resignation), and we have asked for a written, just so we have it for our file. But at this point, he is no longer employed as far as we are concerned with the city of Marlin.”

The district attorney notified authorities on June 20 about allegations of sexual misconduct against Gonzalez where he allegedly approached a woman about her legal status, the arrest affidavit states. Gonzalez allegedly forced the woman into sex acts using his power as a law enforcement officer.

“She claims since meeting Captain Gonzalez he has approached her on many occasions and has let her know that he is aware she is an undocumented alien,” the affidavit states. “She stated that Gonzalez told her that he could arrest her for being illegal, but he would not do that if she would have sex with him.”

The woman initially refused, stating she did not want to have sex with Gonzalez. She also claimed that Gonzalez sexually touched her one day, the affidavit states.

“(The woman) explained Captain Gonzalez promised to keep her safe and take care of things for her because she had no documents to be in the United States,” the affidavit states. “He told her if she ever got in trouble with law enforcement for her to call him for help in exchange for sex.”

Crash report

The affidavit states that the woman was involved in a vehicle crash in another jurisdiction and needed help getting a crash report in late June. Gonzalez allegedly went to the jurisdiction, showed his police badge, obtained the information the woman requested and brought it to the Marlin Police Department where he used a department computer to get the crash report.

“After printing the crash report, Gonzalez told (the woman) that he would not give her the report unless she would have sex with him,” the affidavit states. “

The woman denied Gonzalez’s sexual proposition but later agreed to engage in oral sex, the affidavit states.

“(The woman) explained she kept Captain Gonzalez (as) her friend, because she did not want to be arrested by him for being an illegal alien,” the affidavit states. “She explained she felt compelled to let Captain Gonzalez perform oral sex on her because he is a police officer and he can take care of her problems and she did not want to be arrested for being an undocumented alien.”

Investigators reported that the woman has been attempting to avoid seeing Gonzalez since the incident.

Texas Rangers arrested Gonzalez at a Marlin financial institution late Wednesday afternoon where he was reportedly working off-duty. He was taken to Falls County Jail before he posted a $50,000 bond and was released from custody.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. D.L. Wilson said the investigation remains ongoing.



Fort Worth officer fired for shooting man who held barbecue fork

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – Fort Worth police officer Courtney Johnson — whose charge of aggravated assault by a public servant for shooting a man who was holding a barbecue fork was dismissed last month after a mistrial — has been fired, police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said Tuesday.

Johnson, 35, was accused of shooting Craigory Adams by recklessly handling his shotgun on June 23, 2015.

“We found that these actions were careless and that led to an individual being injured and that’s something we can’t let happen,” Fitzgerald said.

A two-count indictment accused Johnson of taking his gun off safety and sliding the pump action back, then forward as it was pointed toward Adams. The shotgun fired, hitting Adams in the arm. The officer has said he thought Adams was holding a knife, but it was actually a barbecue fork.

In Johnson’s trial, the jury split 5-7, but it was not known which way the majority voted.

Johnson testified that based on information from the 911 call taker, he thought Adams was holding a knife. Johnson’s attorneys, Tim Choy and Jim Lane, maintained that the shooting was accidental but acknowledged that the case may have been difficult for jurors to understand.

“After review of the trial case, and the evidence produced at that trial, it is my belief that any subsequent retrial is unlikely to result in the return of a unanimous jury verdict,” a motion filed by District Attorney Sharen Wilson stated.

Adams, a mentally challenged man who was living with his parents, was outside holding a barbecue fork when he knocked on a neighbor’s door and the neighbor called police.

Johnson failed to identify himself as a police officer when he approached Johnson, said Tamala Ray, a Tarrant County prosecutor. Johnson drove up to the location of the call without his lights and sirens activated and gave Adams several commands, Ray said.

Adams dropped the barbecue fork and dropped to one knee, Ray said in her opening statement at trial.

“At the end of the day, my decision is about safety, security, and community confidence in our officers,” said Fitzgerald in a news release. “Johnson made the wrong decision, and he could have killed Craigory Adams.  It’s important to note that Mr. Adams had knelt and dropped the barbecue fork he was holding, and was compliant at the time he was wounded.”


Dallas officer charged with assault in death of woman

A grand jury has recommended an aggravated assault charge against a Dallas police officer who shot and killed a woman in a January confrontation involving a stolen car.

The Dallas County district attorney announced Friday that Christopher Hess was indicted on a charge of aggravated assault. The charge is related to the January shooting death of 21-year-old Genevive Dawes and is the first time in 43 years that a Dallas Police officer has been indicted for an officer-involved shooting that resulted in death.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson said at a press conference Friday that her office was committed to taking the case to trial and to investigating officer-involved shootings. She said her investigators did not believe there was sufficient evidence to bring a second charge against the officer because of the second passenger in the car.

Daryl Washington, a civil rights attorney representing Dawes’ family, said they were hoping for a murder charge to be brought against the officer. Washington also said the family was hoping a second charge would be brought because of the passenger, Virgilio Rosales, Dawes’ boyfriend, who was also shot at during the incident.

Washington also said Dawes was five months pregnant when she died after being struck by at least four bullets. But Johnson said Friday that Dawes was not pregnant, according to the district attorney’s office investigation.

Hess and another officer, who the grand jury did not recommend charges against, had responded to a suspicious persons call, according to police accounts. Dawes and Rosales allegedly ignored commands to get out of the car, reversed the car into a police cruiser, rammed a wooden fence and were reversing away from the fence when police fired, killing Dawes and injuring Rosales.

Washington said that account is flawed. He said the couple was sleeping about 5 a.m. in the car when police arrived. He said from the evidence he has seen, Dawes never drove the car toward the officers or tried to hit them. He also said Dawes did not know the car was stolen.

Washington said the officers fired 14 times into the car, and that he believed Hess had fired 13 of the shots.

“There were a total of 14 shots at a vehicle that was going five miles per hour,” Washington said. “I can 100 percent stand behind the fact that no officers were in danger. No officer at the time that those shots were fired, were behind that vehicle. And I feel comfortable saying that the statements given by the Dallas police officers were inaccurate.”

Johnson said she had seen the body camera footage from the incident, but could not comment on the content or what role it played in the charge.

Authorities say Hess, a 10-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, will be placed on administrative leave pending a review by Internal Affairs investigators. If convicted, Hess faces between 5 and 99 years in prison.

It was unclear from court documents if Hess had an attorney. District Attorney’s office officials said Hess had arranged to turn himself in to authorities on Monday and that an arrest warrant had been issued.

Dawes’ family members, who gathered to make a statement about the indictment Friday, said she was a goofy and loving woman who would make everyone laugh, once adopted a stray duck and was devoted to her two daughters, Krystinah Rosales, 2 and Cerenity Rosales, 1.

“I feel like they tried to make my sister look like a criminal, to sweep it under the table to not even try to get justice for her,” said Alisha Garcia, Dawes’ 26-year-old sister. “She was my only sister. They took her life.”