By Brian Rogers Houston Chronicle
HOUSTON — A former Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constable accused of police brutality was found not guilty Wednesday by a Harris County jury in a case his attorney said demonstrated that the district attorney’s office is “just out to get cops.”
Jimmy Drummond, 50, was captured on police dash-cam video kicking the prone and handcuffed David Scherz Jr., then dropping his knee onto the man’s back and neck.
During the week-and-a-half-long trial, defense attorneys challenged the circumstances surrounding the incident that was on video, saying the veteran officer was a supervisor who arrived at a “chaotic scene” in which several officers were fighting with several family members of a man with mental health issues.
Jurors in state District Judge Denise Collins court took just an hour Wednesday to find Drummond not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of official oppression. Defense attorney Sam Cammack said the case never should have gone to trial and placed the blame on Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg.
“If the jury comes back in less than an hour on a case that takes a week and a half to try, then that should send a message to this district attorney’s office that they need new eyes evaluating cases, especially Kim Ogg,” Cammack said. “This just goes to show you that they are just out to get cops. But they didn’t get this cop.”
Cammack, who repeatedly has said he plans to run as a Republican against Ogg in 2020, said the office spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get a cop who shouldn’t have been prosecuted in the first place.”
Dane Schiller, spokesman for the DA’s office, released a brief statement after the verdict.
“We presented all of the evidence to a jury, and we respect the jury’s verdict,” he said.
Drummond, who no longer works in law enforcement, was charged with a misdemeanor two years after a September 2011 melee that erupted in front of Scherz’s home following a traffic stop. Scherz allegedly ran a stop sign on his way home, and the incident ended with deputy constables arresting Scherz, his mother, father, sister and an aunt, mostly for resisting arrest. The criminal charges later were dropped.
Cammack tried to call Scherz as a witness, but he apparently is in California and did not return for the trial. It was undisputed in the trial by either side that Scherz has mental health issues. Scherz has filed a lawsuit against Harris County over the incident.
“The reason he didn’t show up is because he didn’t want to say something that messes up his civil case,” Cammack said. “I bet he shows up in court for his civil suit.”
Cammack argued that Drummond acted reasonably when he arrived at the scene and saw several deputies fighting with Scherz’s family. He also argued during closing arguments Wednesday that Drummond should have had a chance to confront Scherz, who did not testify in the trial.
He said Schertz had already broken a rib before the encounter.
On Wednesday, prosecutors said Scherz was not required to testify and the video of the incident proved the allegations.
“On the video, the mistreatment is blatant,” prosecutor Michael Harrison told jurors. “And you don’t need Scherz Jr. to sit on the witness stand to say he was mistreated.”
If convicted, Drummond would have faced up to a year in prison and the loss of his peace officer’s license.