DUELING VIDEOS TO CLASH IN A HOUSTON COURTROOM
Four officers wrestle oil executive to the ground in 2013 arrest. Houston Police complaint alleges bodily injury when his hand touched the officer’s head, bottom right of frame, holding him a choke hold
Domed City – An oil well service company executive will get his long-awaited day in court on October 24 of this year, nearly four years after his arrest for assaulting a Houston cop.
His lawyer didn’t look all that happy as he walked away from a status conference today in court, where he was ready for jury selection and to defend the case. It’s a doozy.
The cops didn’t shoot William D. Driver with firearms as they wrestled him to the ground outside a tent at the Houston Rodeo on February 22, 2013.
After they bulldogged him and laid him out prone, they jolted him four times with a TASER, he said.
In his day job, Driver is one of the Executive Vice Presidents of C&J Energy Services, where he ramrods fracking operations for the outfit. He was 46 on the day the cops jolted, choked, and bulldogged him into submission. In April, he turned 50 years of age.
That’s how long he’s waited for his day in court, his opportunity not to prove that he did not commit the act for which he is charged and indicted, but to sit by his attorney in silence while the Houston Police, with the assistance of the competent and formidable counsel of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office try to prove that he did, in spite of the statements of numerous witnesses.
That is, they must prove to the satisfaction of a panel of twelve jurors that he did then and there intentionally and knowingly assault a public servant in retaliation for the actions of that servant’s efforts to bring his actions under control.
Tres drama, ami.
A video of the arrest shows a fifth cop piling on after Driver’s body is rigid from the thousands of volts of electricity coursing through it. A bystander made the motion picture with a cell phone, and the police confiscated it in an effort to erase the video.
They were far too late to effectively oppose today’s technology. The images were already on the cloud, where the owner transmitted them as soon as the depiction ended. Cynthia Zamora uploaded it to YouTube on Oct. 14, 2013.
Although the images are blurred, their contrast murky, excited kibbitzers in the crowd may be heard shouting that Driver is being “tased.”
According to his defense attorney Paul Looney, Driver and his companions were walking out of the tent when the officers working a private security job began to clear a path for musicians to walk through.
When they shoved Driver back, he said, “Hey, tell me. Don’t push me,” and the melee was on.
“He just kept walking,” said Looney.
Police alleged in their official complaint that Driver hit one of the officers in the head with his hand as they wrestled with him. Indeed, one may see his hand brushing the shiny billiard ball surface of the shaved head of a Houston cop as he begins to fall to the ground.
When they reached the magistrate’s bench, prosecutors charged him with the third degree felony of assault of a public servant – retaliation, a third degree felony offense that carries a sentence of not less than two years and not more than 10, as well as a fine of $10,000.
That’s what it costs a man to raise up his hand to defend against the blows dealt him by rampaging cops.
How scary is that?
But, wait, there’s more.
The grand jurors who indicted him were part of a program paid for by the District Attorney’s office that uses “shooting simulators” intended to train policemen when to fire and when not to fire their weapons at persons in situations that either do, or do not require the use of deadly force.
In a “Houston Chronicle” series that appeared later that year, Staff Writer James Pinkerton reported Harris County grand jurors cleared every officer who shot a resident in 2014 in a string of no-bills that dates from 2004.
“Last year, local grand juries chose not to charge 47 officers from nine agencies, including 20 cases in which civilians died and 19 other cases involving wounded civilians…”
Activists came to the forefront alleging that Grand Jury Commissioners appointed by Criminal District Judges routinely picked ex-police, probation officers, and former criminal justice system staffers to do the job of hearing presentations by Assistant District Attorneys and the testimony of police officers.
During grand jury sessions, attorneys for the defense are not allowed to enter the star chamber, and if a defendant is called to testify, they may answer questions yes, no, would you repeat the question, or take the Fifth Amendment. They cannot refer to notes or reference matieral, and If they have a question for their attorney, they must leave the room to ask before returning with their answer.
If a jury is seated and his case goes to trial in 182nd State District Court on Monday, May 23, it will be after his attorney has continuously answered docket calls since his indictment in 2013.
Driver has had numerous opportunities to cop a plea to the charge, or something of a “lesser” nature, something else that did not, in fact, ever happen. According to court papers, there are far too many witnesses who know better, many of whom are ready to testify.
Nevertheless, his attorney has been busy in pre-trial maneuvers.
In a January, 2014, motion, Looney pleaded for the dismissal of the indictment because of the alleged taint of Jurors having been trained not as neutral observers and finders of fact, but as potential police officers, placed in a position to make a decision between use of lethal force, or an attempt at de-escalation of a potentially deadly situation.
Court papers do not reveal if in a final motions hearing Judge Jeannine Barr denied the motion, of if it has been argued.
The training sessions, which are held in the basement of the courthouse, lead grand jurors to identify with the officer, and that dehumanizes the other party to the dispute, he argued.
“I’m strongly of the opinion that makes it a flawed grand jury process,” he said.
District Attorney Devon Anderson defended her practice of paying for the use of simulators for grand jurors who volunteer for the police training sessions. She told newsmen that the practice applies to both self-defense claims by police and those of citizens.
One may watch a television report depicting actual demonstrations of the grand jury’s use of shooting simulators by clicking here.