Sheriff, Texas DPS to address Tarrant County Jail in-custody death (2024)

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn says two jailers have been fired following an internal investigation into the in-custody death of 31-year-old Anthony Johnson. The Texas DPS, meanwhile, is continuing its criminal investigation into the incident.

Johnson died on April 21 following a confrontation with detention officers who the sheriff said Thursday were doing a required and routine shakedown of jail cells to find contraband.

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The sheriff released surveillance video from within the jail showing the interaction between detention officers and Johnson. Describing the video, Waybourn said Johnson struggled with detention officers for several minutes in what he described as a very long, dangerous fight near a second-floor railing.

Waybourn said when deputies arrived to search Johnson's cell he "kind of lunges" at an officer and that a fight began where jailers struggled to gain control for several minutes. Waybourn said officers used pepper spray before Johnson was taken to the ground and restrained and that a jailer put his knee into Johnson's back to hold him until they could put on leg restraints.

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About 90 seconds later, when the jailer stood up, Waybourn said Johnson was unresponsive and was moved downstairs to a medical area where attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

The sheriff said two jailers were fired, one for using a technique not approved by the sheriff's department and another for allowing the technique to be used and for failing to respond to the urgency of the situation.

"The two team members that were terminated was one Officer Rafael Moreno and he was using a technique that number one he was not trained to do and number two that we do not tolerate nor do we want done," Waybourn said. "The second one was Lt. Joe Garcia. Lt. Garcia was terminated on the basis that not only was he there, he was in charge and he was allowing this to occur. He also did not respond to the urgency of the situation. He was not urgent in carrying out his duties and that had a detrimental effect."

The sheriff said detention officers are allowed to put their knee into the back of a person until restraints are in place, but that they are then expected to immediately put the restrained person into a recovery position. Waybourn said once they realized Johnson was unresponsive he should have been put into recovery and the medical team that was downstairs should have been immediately brought upstairs to him rather than waiting to move him downstairs to them.

"What you do after that is immediately, put them in the recovery position. Immediately. That didn’t happen. That was on Lt. Garcia. He should have done that. They never should have kept him supine. They should have got him up and got his legs forward and control it," Waybourn said.

Waybourn said Johnson's family was shown the video earlier in the day before it was publicly released Thursday afternoon.

"It’s devastating. He was treated worse than an animal and there are a lot of people who are going to be held accountable for this. Starting with the sheriff on down to the jailers, the multiple jailers, six to eight jailers down to the medical staff," said Johnson's mother, Jacqualyne Johnson. "So that’s where we are right now. I’m very numb."

Johnson's two sisters spoke to NBC 5 as well.

“It was the most evil thing that I think I’ve seen in my life,” said Janell Johnson.

Waybourn said the medical examiner has not yet ruled on Johnson's cause of death and a toxicology report has not been completed.

Waybourn said Johnson was alone in his cell and that detention officers sweeping for contraband found a homemade shank and a razor in Johnson's cell.

The sheriff said before Johnson was arrested, his family tried to put him in a private mental health facility but he was turned away. Waybourn said this incident highlighted a need for more resources to help mental health patients – other than detention facilities.

Johnson’s family and Sheriff Waybourn confirmed Johnson, a retired marine, suffered from diagnosed mental health issues. However, Waybourn said he does know whether that was taken into consideration at the time of the altercation.

"We grieve for that family. And we grieve for law enforcement," Waybourn said.

Since 2017, 63 inmates at the county jail have died with the most recent death being Johnson's on April 21.

TEXAS RANGERS CONDUCTING CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

The Texas Rangers, a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, are independently investigating Johnson's death. On Thursday, Texas DPS Regional Director Jeremy Sherrod said the Texas Rangers' investigation is ongoing and asked for continued patience.

“There are still a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle that we have to gather and some of those are from independent sources. So we ask for your patience," Sherrod said.

Sherrod said once their investigation is completed it would be referred to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office and they would provide another update at that time.

JAILER'S TERMINATION WILL BE APPEALED

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas said they are representing one of the officers who was terminated and that they intend to appeal the firing.

"We feel that the sheriff’s actions are premature as the medical examiner’s report has not been released, and we don’t know the cause of death. The sheriff’s actions appear to be a response to the heightened public interest in this case," said CLEAT, in a statement.

ANTHONY JOHNSON

Tarrant CountyApr 25

Tarrant County Sheriff addresses in-custody death, asks for patience as investigations unfold

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Sheriff, Texas DPS to address Tarrant County Jail in-custody death (2024)

FAQs

Sheriff, Texas DPS to address Tarrant County Jail in-custody death? ›

The Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers are investigating a confrontation in the Tarrant County jail between officers and an inmate leading to the man's death. An officer and a lieutenant are now no longer with the office after being fired by Sheriff Bill Wayborn.

How do I get someone out of Tarrant County Jail? ›

Pretrial Release Types in Tarrant County, Texas
  1. Promise to Appear – The defendant signs a document stating he or she will attend the next court hearing. There is no fee.
  2. Bail – The defendant can post bail in a number of ways. ...
  3. Attorney Bond – Your attorney can represent you and act as a bail bondsman.

How do I contact an inmate in Tarrant County Jail? ›

Calls are free within the local dialing area. Collect call phones are available to make calls outside of the local dialing area. When an inmate calls you collect you are responsible for the collect call fee. Please call Securus Correctional Billing @ 1- 800- 844-6591 for collect call fee in your area.

Who is the sheriff for Tarrant County? ›

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn was honored to speak at the Fort Worth Police Department's Memorial ceremony. The memorial honors the lives of brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice serving the City of Fort Worth.

What is the mission statement of the Tarrant County Sheriff? ›

MISSION STATEMENT

Our mission is to protect by courageously standing between evil and good with honor, while we strive to serve with respect – always putting others before self. Sheriff Bill E. Waybourn took office in 2017, bringing with him over 30 years of law enforcement experience.

How do I contact someone in jail in Texas? ›

Note: You will need the inmate's TDCJ ID number to register to receive telephone calls from him or her. If you do not know their number you can find it through the online inmate search or by telephone at (936) 295-6371 or (800) 535-0283. The telephones are answered from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday - Friday.

How long does it take to be booked in Tarrant County Jail? ›

For example, was the person taken to a city jail or Tarrant County jail, which is in downtown Fort Worth. There is a book-in process that can take 4-6 hours. Then once a person is booked in they wait for magistration, which is when the judge sets a bond. This can take another 4-6 hours.

What phone company does Tarrant County Jail use? ›

Securus offers two types of accounts to ensure you can receive phone calls from TDCJ inmates. An AdvanceConnect prepaid account ensures you are always ready to receive calls. Since you pay before being called, there is never a disruption in service as long as the account has funds available.

What is the messaging system for Tarrant County Jail? ›

Securus messaging

Securus may be another option for communicating with an inmate at Tarrant County Jail. You can create a friends and family account and purchase credits to send messages. All messages will be reviewed and must be approved by the facility.

Who is in charge of Tarrant County Jail? ›

Charles Eckert, executive chief of the detention bureau, looks in on one of the medical facilities in the Tarrant County jail on Thursday, March 7, 2024. There have been more than 60 deaths at the Tarrant County jail since Sheriff Bill Waybourn took office in 2017.

How do I contact the Tarrant County sheriff? ›

This is the official Instagram for Tarrant County Sheriff's Office. This page is not monitored 24/7. To report crime please call 817-884-1213 or 911.

What is the phone number for Tarrant County? ›

If you have questions about any matter that is not answered on our County Webpages, the Frequently Asked Questions Page or these phone numbers, please call the County Telephone Operator at 817-884-1111.

What does the county sheriff do in Texas? ›

It is the Sheriff's responsibility to investigate crimes, make arrests, serve writs, appoint deputies and maintain communications with municipal and state law enforcement operations within the county. The Sheriff has countywide jurisdiction.

What are the largest sheriff departments in Texas? ›

The Harris County Sheriff's Office. The Harris County Sheriff's Office, founded in 1837, is the largest sheriff's office in Texas and the third largest in the United States. The HCSO has nearly 4600 employees and 200 reservists dedicated to ensuring the safety of over 4.1 million residents who call Harris County home.

Who is the chief of police in Fort Worth Texas? ›

Chief of Police Neil Noakes

Chief Neil Noakes has been with the FWPD since 2000. He has served in multiple ranks across the department in areas such as Patrol, DWI, Motors, and Internal Affairs. Prior to being named Chief of Police, he oversaw the South Command as Deputy Chief.

How to get a police report in Tarrant County? ›

An individual can submit a written request to the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office Records Division by mail, e-mail, fax or in-person to receive a copy of an accident report at no charge. Persons or entities who do not meet the criteria will receive a redacted copy of the crash report.

How do you get someone out of jail in Texas? ›

One of the top ways to do so is by posting their bail. Once you post the bail amount, the accused can be released until they face trial. Here is more about how you can go about bailing a loved one out of jail in Houston, TX, and the steps you should take if you cannot afford bail.

How long does it take to get bonded out of Tarrant County Jail? ›

Filling out paperwork usually takes around 30 minutes, but posting the bond must await the arrestee being booked. After the bond is posted, there is also a sometimes lengthy release process. If the jail is busy, the bail bonds process typically takes anywhere between 3 and 24 hours.

What to do when someone comes out of jail? ›

5 Tips to Help a Family Member Reintegrate After Prison Release
  1. Provide Housing, If Possible.
  2. Focus on Socialization.
  3. Facilitate Productivity.
  4. Provide Structure, But Encourage Independence.
  5. Watch for Mental Health Warning Signs.

How do you get out of jail in Texas? ›

Ways That You Can Get Out of Jail in the State of Texas
  1. Personal Recognizance — This is the most common for first-time offenders of non-violent crimes. ...
  2. Cash Bond — The smallest cash bonds in Texas (which only apply to misdemeanors that haven't been classified as “aggravated”) can be $1,000 or less.

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