In June, a Dallas County jail detention officer was accused of assaulting an inmate and was subsequently charged.
According to reports from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, detention service officer Levar Weston has been accused of assaulting an inmate located in a Dallas County jail. Reports show that Weston allegedly lashed out at an inmate who may have been acting unruly. The documents show that the inmate had intentionally caused flooding in his housing space earlier in the month, and Weston retaliated by strapping him to a restraint chair in a holding area, striking him with an open hand, and spitting on him.
Recently, Dallas County Sheriff Marian Brown released the following statement:
“Any allegations of improper conduct or criminal violations are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. The actions that the officer displayed clearly exceeded the boundaries of the law, policy and professionalism. The Sheriff’s Office strives to maintain the highest degree of Integrity, Professionalism and Integrity along with the public’s trust.”
Weston was hired in April of 2019, so he is not exactly a veteran. However, even though he has not been working as a Dallas County detention officer for long, he is still expected to act with dignity and class. He is now facing charges including assault causing bodily injury and official oppression.
Stories of detention officers and law enforcement officers abusing their power are always disheartening. As the general public becomes more and more aware of the actions and behaviors of officers, stories like these do nothing but further diminish the reputation of those who have sworn to protect and serve our communities. Jail is seen as an undesirable place, but those who make up the detention centers in our nation still have the right to be protected. When an officer behaves in this way, it causes the general public to analyze the situation and wonder just how often this type of behavior is taking place.
Let’s take a look at the crime Weston has been charged with, and the potential penalties he may face as a result of his actions. According to Texas Penal Code § 22.01, an individual is guilty of assault if they are found intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly inflicting bodily injury upon another person. In certain instances, they can be charged with this crime if they threaten to cause bodily injury to another individual.
In Dallas, Texas, assault charges can be as benign as a class C misdemeanor, but they can be as serious as a third-degree felony depending on the severity of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. In this unique situation, Weston’s assault charge will most likely be classified as a Class A misdemeanor due to the severity of his actions. He did more than threaten violence; he forcefully and intentionally harmed the inmate. And if the inmate is found to be an elderly or disabled individual, Weston may face even more penalties and consequences.
Jail detention officers and law enforcement officers should be held to a higher standard. These individuals have been put in positions of power; they have access to elite resources, legally wield deadly firearms, and their role is to keep their community safe and protected. When an officer is found betraying the trust of the county by assaulting an individual–regardless of whether or not they are incarcerated–they need to be brought to justice and removed from their role. This needs to happen swiftly, and an example may need to be made out of Weston. Law enforcement and detention officers need to know that if they are found abusing their power and hurting the people they are supposed to protect, they can face severe penalties including termination, mandatory court-ordered fines, and jail time.
Assault charges should never be taken lightly. If you are an individual who has recently been accused of or charged with assault in Dallas County and you’re unsure of what to do about it, the first step you should take is hiring a criminal defense attorney. Serving Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, Denton, Parker, Wise, Kaufman, and many other counties in the state of Texas, the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can help you with your legal struggles. Our firm is led by experienced attorney Richard McConathy, and we are confident in our ability to help you get through your criminal case. We have years of experience working with Texans on their criminal cases, and with a strong reputation of providing favorable outcomes for our clients, we believe we have what it takes to represent you in a court of law. Contact us today at 972-233-5700 to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.