Allegations launch investigation
Houston County Courier - July 2008
By Daphne Hereford
Allegations made against Houston County Sheriff’s Office Deputy H.D. Gresham and another unnamed deputy by a Crockett man, Damien Taylor, have resulted in an investigation reportedly led by the FBI.
According to Mystic Matthews, a reporter for KTRE Channel 9, Lufkin, the station’s news director was told that the “Crockett newspaper” was investigating an alleged incident that occurred in Crockett around noon on Friday, July 11 on Charles Street.
When assigned the story, Ms. Matthews was reportedly told the FBI, Texas Rangers, NAACP and Harry Fred Scott were investigating the case.
Ms. Matthews told Courier General Manager Jeannine Rhone early afternoon on Tuesday, July 15 the allegations suggested that Gresham and another deputy had assaulted the 20-year-old Taylor and driven him to the county line from where he walked home.
The Tuesday night report on KTRE indicated that Taylor alleged a civil rights violation and that he had been tazed, kicked and beaten up by the deputies. The report also said that Crockett Police Department took statements from witnesses in the case, including photos from Gresham’s daughter Crystal, and turned all the information over to the Texas Rangers.
Arrest records from the Houston County Sheriff’s Office Jail indicate that since August 2006 Taylor had been arrested and charged with burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and providing false information.
Sources said that Taylor had been charged in the past with burglarizing Gresham’s home.
Chief Fisher told Mrs. Rhone Wednesday morning in a telephone interview that the Crockett Police Department is not investigating the matter and that witnesses in the case are being told to contact the Sheriff''s Office or the FBI in Tyler, since it is a civil rights issue.
In an interview with the Courier Wednesday morning HCSO Sheriff Darrel Bobbitt said, “On Tuesday, July 14, I was informed by one of my deputies that an alleged report had been made concerning one Damien Taylor.
“I was told that Taylor had reported that two other deputies had assaulted him.”
Bobbitt said the reporting deputy advised that he didn’t know all of the details but was just relaying what he had heard.
“The next day, still with no complainant coming forward, a representative from the Grapeland Messenger came to the sheriff’s office and advised that the Crockett Police Department had called for the paper to come to their office and they were given the information reported above.
“The representative from the Messenger also told me that two witnesses of the alleged incident were brought to the Police Department and allowed to be questioned by the reporter.”
“Apparently, Taylor had reported this to the Police Department, but as of Wednesday morning they have not called this office.”
Sheriff Bobbitt stated that from what he has been told, a report has been made and this investigation should be conducted by a neutral agency and let the evidence dictate the direction of the investigation.
He stated that he had never heard of a law enforcement agency contacting the media and allowing the media to question their potential witnesses in an alleged open investigation.
Bobbitt said whether this report is accurate or not, it seems that any potential evidence from statements that could have been vital may now be jeopardized or tainted.
Sheriff Bobbitt emphatically stated that his office would cooperate fully with any investigation and looks forward to resolving this issue.
Sheriff Bobbitt said the two deputies remained on duty.
According to Garrett Floyd, FBI supervisor for the area, as of press time Wednesday morning there was no open case relating to the incident but an investigation will be conducted.