THE GIRL, THE PIPE, THE BADGE, AND THE PAPERWORK…
Six Shooter Junction – The more questions you ask, the more questions you have.
The stories come tumbling out of laconic case notes and the blocky grids of official McLennan County Sheriff’s Office report form like flash-frozen pre-cooked meals; through every twist and turn, there is one dynamic, aside from bland flavor and placid narrative, that is constant.
The difference in what written policy and procedure dictates and has been supported by senior command staff members in their investigations differs wildly from what official response actually took place in response to some very outrageous occurrences.
In at least one case, an official record of an officer’s dismissal for official misconduct and placing the department in legally perilous waters went unremarked when a Lieutenant destroyed the official record and replaced it with an altered version that was 180 degrees out from reality – a felony crime.
As one seasoned professional lawman said, “The principle applied is screw up, move up.”
First things first. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King, and all officers of the law carry a hand cannon on their hip; most sport a belly gun that doesn’t show. Just like climbing ladders if you’re a roofer or a painter, he who never goes aloft has zero percentage of risk to fall off a ladder, a building, or a scaffold.
Carry a gun every day, day in, day out, when you get a coffee, go to the bathroom, sit in an office chair, get in and out of the car, arrive at the house, get up in the morning, stop off to get milk and bread and a six-pack, or anything else you do, and the probability of an accidental or negligent discharge increases exponentially.
At least two Division Captains have experienced just such an emergency. Capt. John Kolinek, the Jail chief, and Capt. Bubba Colyer, the chief of criminal investigations, have both had just such unhappy experiences. The record shows that Colyer received a verbal reprimand, and an order to report to the firing range for two hours of training on the proper techniques of loading and firing the 1911 Government Model .45 semiautomatic ACP.
And then we received the intelligence after the holidays that Sheriff Parnell McNamara delivered a written reprimand to Corporal Joseph Ballew for training his K9 partner, a drug detection dog, in an improper atmosphere, one that made him want to bite a fellow officer. We had to read it in a daily sheet published in the city. The Sheriff and the men connected with the incident had promised, but then reneged after making news in the daily. That happened in August, just before Ballew got an opportunity to receive a promotion and take advantage of an opportunity for different employment in a lateral transfer to a different division. Some say he was promoted because of his lack of proper supervision.
And then there’s the ill-fated beer bust that took place in an apartment located at 2826 S. University Parks Dr., Building 10 – an opulent venue for young, eligible men and women, many of them Baylor students, located a scant 1.8 miles from Baylor University, smack dab on a shuttle bus route that removes all need to fight for an on-campus parking place. This oasis is complete with a stand-in tanning booth, a work-out room, spacious elevated verandas with majestic evening shade views of the gumbo bottom land of the Brazos, plenty of parking, apartments the size of most homes at an average of 1,200 square feet, a number of swimming pools and spas; and did we mention the very pretty women who live there?
Don’t look for anything less than five bills per month for a furnished bacalaureate habitat.
Here’s the kind of place it is. One such lady wrote a critique of the ambience of The Grove by complaining on-line to prospective leaseholders that there is a certain type of resident who – ah – can’t be bothered to walk those last few steps to the dumpster and pitch the tremendous plastic garbage bags filled with beer cans the parties at their residences generate. They cheerfully leave them on the surface of the paved parking lot for the scavengers of aluminum who sell them at Lipsitz’s, located just down the road, to snatch up without having to actually dumpster dive for their fortunes. She says in her message that she can’t wait for her lease to run out so she and her partner can hunt up a better place to live.
On the evening of July 24, a quartet of corrections officers who work at the county lockup opened “several” 30-pack cardboard suitcases of brew, set up the beer pong game in the middle of the floor, went out for pizza, got back home and got into a brouhaha with a certain couple who came to rescue one of their number’s overnight date from the brawl. When Sabrina Guzman gave her distress call, Wade Carter and his girlfriend saddled up for the run from China Spring, arriving with a bowl of marijuana and an empty seat in the pickup. She and Stephen Clayton, a corrections officer, had words, and Sabrina decided it was time to leave. That’s when Spencer Rowell took it upon himself to confront Carter about his use of the yerba buena in public, and the disturbance got loud enough to attract the attention of the resident “courtesy officer,” Rick Flores of the Waco Police Department, who called Sgt. J.M. Allovio for backup.
In reading Sgt. Allovio’s remarks, one is reminded of the flickering fun of an acient Keystone Kops movie when he describes the catcalls and sarcastic snickers from the breezeway leading to the apartment, and how when Jail Lieutenant Mike Garrett arrived to investigate, the four of them who had stood by to observe the melee in the parking lot suddenly “fled” into Apartment No. 1037 and bolted the door. Allovio noted the nobody-in-here-but-us-chickens moment when he was forced to knock repeatedly to gain entry to the residence in order to let Sabrina visit the bathroom and retrieve her overnight bag.
What of the young man with the marijuana? The Waco P.D. confiscated his pipe and a small amount of green, leafy, herbaceous substance slated for the incinerator at headquarters, issued him a summons, and sent him on his way with the girls. But not before Clayton delivered an ill-tempered soliloquy from the balcony about how the “bitch” was trying to get him arrested, and Spencer Rowell visited the trio who sat in the idling Cowboy Cadillac in order to display his Sheriff’s Office credentials identifying him as a deputy.
That was a no no. But that wasn’t all. The department could have been exposed to civil litigation as a result of his intoxicated state while flashing his tin. And then, on July 21, he had pointed a TASER at an inmate locked up at the jail. Wrong. Use of force. After a thorough investigation, Jail Division Captain John Kolinek fired him, writing in a discharge memo, “Based on the above information, your conduct in this matter is unacceptable…I do not believe that it is in the best interest of this agency for you to remain employed at this time. Therefore, you are being terminated effective immediately.”
Deep Throat would have called it “the smoking gun.”
And yet, when one looks at the “F-5” report sent to the state’s alphabet soup certification commission, then called TCLEOSE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education), one learns that Rowell’s departure was voluntary. There is no nasty-gram to be found in his folder, other than the blistering dismissal from Kolinek.
And what of Stephen Clayton? After all, when his roommate Vince Otting arrived home following his visit to a barbecue at Hewitt, he found their apartment “trashed,” Clayton standing up tall and bellowing at him about “talking shit,” trying to get him fired, etc. Clayton even kicked his door, according to a report he wrote at the behest of Lt. Garrett, who summoned him back to the jail to write his impressions of the evening. Following our request, we received no further material on Clayton’s conduct and subsequent career at the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.
And what of the famous Rowell file?
According to a highly placed official close to the investigation, the task of destroying its more pejorative contents and replacing them with bromides and euphemisms, fibs and fables, fell to Kim King, training assistant to Lieutenant Chris Eubank, Director of Training, who now serves as a sergeant in the Patrol Division. He resigned, but then decided to re-hire as a Sergeant, at the request of Sheriff McNamara. Eubank reportedly told Deputy King to lose the paperwork – or else. She would lose her job, for starters, etc., and other imprecations to that effect, according to the source, who refuses attribution, just in case more and better information may come his way.
“It was kind of her dream job,” he recalls.
She just could not do it. She made a backup copy of the material, placed it in a “secret file,” and left it to Eubank to handle his own affairs when she took advantage of an opportunity to go to work as an investigator at the jail.
“Somewhere down there, that file is to be found,” our man said. Furthermore, he saith not.
So mote it be.