By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Seeking Closure with Phil, Terry and Wayne
Last week in this space ["Seeking Closure in Fort Davis"] we characterized as "erroneous" Channel 2's April 30 report that Richard McLaren had reached an agreement with the Department of Public Safety to surrender and end the standoff outside Fort Davis. Regrettably, that characterization itself was erroneous, at least with regard to Phil Archer. Archer is a veteran reporter whose work we've always respected, and continue to respect.
Archer says his station was correct in reporting that McLaren had agreed to surrender, pointing to statements that day by McLaren lawyer Terry O'Rourke that "an agreement ... maybe an understanding" had been reached and by DPS spokesman Mike Cox that his agency thought it had "an understanding ... at least a verbal agreement" with McLaren. While McLaren did not give up until four days later, after viewing tapes of the April 30 Channel 2 report and the station's follow-up stories, it is clear to us that Archer never said McLaren would "surrender shortly," as our item suggested. In fact, Channel 2 anchorwoman Dominique Sachse and reporter Mark Alford, who was on the scene with Archer in Fort Davis, both cautioned that the station did not know if McLaren would actually surrender. However, in the same report Alford seemed to suggest that a surrender was imminent, saying, "We're expecting [McLaren] at any time to come through this police blockade and put an end to this four-day standoff."
O'Rourke, meanwhile, takes issue with our description of him as "having no background in criminal law," saying he possesses extensive experience in criminal matters from his stints as a clerk to a U.S. district judge, an assistant state attorney general, an assistant county attorney and as a criminal defense lawyer in Washington, D.C.
O'Rourke, by the way, is not representing McLaren in the criminal charges against him, but is the lawyer for the civil action McLaren is pursuing that questions the validity of Texas's annexation by the United States 150 years ago.
And lastly, Channel 13's Wayne Dolcefino says that he made only a perfunctory effort to chat up that Midland-Odessa print journalist we mentioned in the same item last week. Wayne tells us his true non-news interest during the media siege of Fort Davis was a fellow TV reporter from El Paso who liked him a lot more than Sylvester Turner's little sister might have, if she existed and had run into Wayne at closing time a few years ago at The Pig on Richmond.
Law of the Pack
Boy Scout Troop 152 hoped to make some money off the sale of barbecue sandwiches at St. Jerome's Catholic Church, but all the scouts got out of the afternoon was a close-up view of a real beef between a bevy of HPD patrol officers and one of the cooks. While the police report of the April 12 incident claims one officer used justified force to arrest the man on charges of interfering with and resisting arrest and public intoxication, numerous witnesses insist that she and her colleagues used excessive force in making an unjustified arrest.
The incident at the Spring Branch church began after Gary Cameron, the owner of a lock and safe company in the area, and friends had set up a grill and began preparing food for the benefit. A friend of Cameron's, Carol Ingersoll, made a run to a local convenience store and was returning to the church parking lot. An HPD patrol unit driven by officer T.L. Davis followed Ingersoll into the lot with the intention of ticketing her for an expired inspection sticker.
What happened next is in dispute. Ingersoll and four other bystanders, including the scout troop leader and his teenage son, say Cameron approached the squad car to ask Davis why Ingersoll had been stopped. Davis ordered him to get away. Cameron began to leave, then turned and offered the officer a sandwich and soft drink once the matter was concluded. Davis repeated the order to leave the area.
As Cameron walked away, Davis turned to a civilian passenger in her car and said, "Watch this," according to witnesses who support Cameron's version of events. The officer then ran up to Cameron, grabbed the 300-pound man's back pocket, and spun him to the ground. While Davis claimed in her report that Cameron resisted arrest, the witnesses all maintain that he tried to comply with the officer's orders, which included a confusing series of barked commands to get on his knees and then lie face down. Davis handcuffed one of the prostrate Cameron's hands but left the other free, while calling for backup. The HPD report claims Davis could not get the man's arms together because he was too big.
According to the report, Davis claimed she was in fear of her safety, but witnesses say Cameron never resisted and tried to comply with her orders. Within minutes, four other squad cars swarmed into the lot, and four officers pounced on Cameron, who, according to witnesses, was still lying face down on the ground. All the witnesses agree that one patrolman kicked Cameron in the head while the others pulled his arms behind his back until he began screaming. The officers then put the locksmith in a squad car, while other units began pouring into the lot. At its peak, according to witnesses, some 15 officers were milling about the church lot, laughing and joking with one other.