Criminal Charge: Evading Arrest / Detention
Case: State of Texas v. Damien Garcia, Cause 60754
Court: Lamar County, 2013
Result: Not Guilty
Mr. Garcia was charged with evading arrest or detention under the following facts. Two Paris, TX police officers heard a dispatch that an anonymous pedestrian hailed down another police car and reported an altercation at a convenience store involving a light-skinned male with red hair who was “possibly” wielding a gun.
The officers rushed to the scene. On arrival, the observed Mr. Garcia – who is neither light-skinned nor red-headed – in a calm discussion with the red-headed young man. The officers jumped from their cars barking orders to the young men; Mr. Garcia fled the scene on foot and was eventually captured.
At jury trial, one of the officers testified he was riding along with a new officer to train him. Remarkably, he testified that Mr. Garcia admitted at the police station that he was indeed involved in an altercation at the scene…a fact that was utterly omitted from each cop’s report. Further, even though the police station is full of cameras and audio equipment, they both testified the alleged confession was not captured on video. When Haslam challenged this testimony coming from an officer delegated the task of training cops how to do their work, the trainer meekly acknowledged his failure to include the “confession” in his report was an “oversight”. Indeed.
Haslam argued to the jury that the “confession” wasn’t taped because it never happened, and that in any event state and federal law require “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the suspect has, is or soon will commit a crime before a cop can force a citizen to stop. Here, he argued, the only information these cops had was that the red-headed man was involved in a fight. They observed Mr. Garcia in a calm discussion with him. In short, there was absolutely zero reasonable, articulable suspicion that Mr. Garcia was involved in any criminal activity.
The jury agreed that this information was legally insufficient to detain Mr. Garcia and he was not legally obligated to listen to the police officers’ command that he stop. Their NOT GUILTY verdict was returned in 45 minutes.
Interestingly, that red-headed young man walked away unapprehended – ever: while the Paris Police Department was so busy chasing down Mr. Garcia’s refusal to submit to their illegal arrest, the man about whom reasonable, articulable suspicion DID exist simply walked…away.