Citizens reacted strongly to the announcement that Angela West, wife of Republican gubernatorial candidate Allen West, wasn’t intoxicated despite being arrested for driving while intoxicated. While questions remain about who else may have been wrongfully arrested by Dallas police, city council members are largely silent, including Adam Bazaldua, who previously positioned himself as a champion of black Americans last year.
Last week, Angela West was vindicated after her attorney announced the Dallas Police Department’s blood test found no trace of drugs or alcohol. Officer Lydia Harris arrested her on August 20 for driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 years old (West’s then 3-month-old grandchild was in the car).
After reviewing the evidence, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot (D) refused to prosecute the case.
Mrs. West made several allegations to Texas Scorecard, including what was left out of the edited video of her arrest, and said she was denied her request to speak with a lawyer and pressured to say she hadn’t been around anyone with COVID–19 recently. When asked about these allegations, DPD said the video that was “nearly two hours” long was “edited,” and that “some of the dead space you hear in the shorten[ed] version were redactions required by law.”
Texas Scorecard sent inquiries to every member of the Dallas City Council and Mayor Eric Johnson’s office about the situation. Among other questions, Texas Scorecard inquired about whether they had asked DPD Chief Eddie Garcia for a full review of DPD processes and procedures in these matters, and if it’s known how many citizens have been wrongly arrested for DWI. Only Councilmember Jaynie Schultz replied before publication. “No comment. Thank you.”
While Dallas officials are largely silent about the West arrest, citizens are not.
“I’m not a police officer, but when I originally watched the arrest video, I didn’t see any signs of intoxication and also agreed that the female arresting officer did not give clear instructions,” Freddy Redmon commented. “I hope they sue the hell out of Dallas.”
“I’m a nurse of 29 years and can absolutely tell you that the nystagmus exam went on entirely too long,” John Price wrote. “The same is true of every single other test [Harris] administered. Meanwhile the other officer just stood stupidly by and watched.”
“The police [f]ailed here,” commented Lola Ruby. “That officer needs more training and needs to study her little notes more!”
“There was NO LEGITIMATE REASON for the ‘law officer’ to stop and harass the woman,” Bob Seabolt said. “Many, many innocent citizens are abused the same way. Law enforcement most certainly does not need to manufacture crime.”
“How many other victims are there?” Susan Smithwick asked.
Others, like Jacob Machiavello, disagree. “The officer did have [probable cause] to pull her over, and she did fail the test. It was a good arrest. And it’s good that charges are being dropped. Due process at work.”
“Defund” Police Overtime Council Members
Adam Bazaldua didn’t respond to the multiple inquiries sent to his office. He’s been a prominent supporter of Black Lives Matter and spearheaded last year’s $7 million “defund” of police overtime following the death of George Floyd (a jury later found the officer involved guilty of murder). The co-sponsors to his “defund” amendment—Councilmembers Paula Blackmon, Omar Narvaez, and Tennell Atkins—have also been silent on Angela West’s wrongful arrest. Councilmember Chad West was another co-sponsor, though his stated reason was alleged “abuse” of police overtime. Blackmon had helped trigger Dallas’ “defund” move last year by writing a letter to the city manager.
Regarding police accountability and transparency, Bazaldua has taken no action to answer inquiries regarding how many are on Creuzot’s list of DPD officers with questionable credibility that he would not call to testify in court, or else he would have to reveal “publicly on the judicial record that this officer has impeachment evidence.” Such a list was known as a Brady list or Giglio list; in Dallas, however, these lists are now referred to as a “Disclosure Compliance.” This March, a city spokesperson said it’s her understanding that “hundreds of officers” are on this list.
In an August 23 press conference regarding West’s arrest, Chief Garcia said, “When we’re wrong, we’re wrong; and we will hold ourselves accountable.” Allen West called for Garcia to apologize and release the full, unedited video of the arrest. Texas Scorecard contacted DPD, asking for a response from Chief Garcia and whether any actions were being taken. DPD’s response did not answer those questions.
Mayor Johnson previously told Texas Scorecard, “Police accountability is critical to our public safety efforts. Our community must be able to trust our police officers if we are going to reduce crime.” Though he said Chief Garcia and the city manager are responsible “to instill a culture of accountability and to enforce the high standards our community has,” Johnson added city council must hold city executives accountable.
Another scandal currently plagues DPD, as 22 terabytes of crime data are now missing after an IT employee incorrectly transferred files from cloud storage to a local server.