Judge considers request to block video evidence that appears to show autistic teen being hit

Crime

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The judge overseeing pretrial hearings in the case of two men accused of abusing a nonverbal teenager with autism, said Tuesday he will rule on whether to throw out a potential key piece of evidence.

Judge Jack Skeen on Tuesday held Zoom hearings on pretrial motions filed on behalf of Bubacarr Ceesay, of Tyler, and Auston Kile Reed, of Lindale.

Ceesay and Reed are former employees of Community Access of Tyler, a group home that cares for people with special needs. The father of the teen set up a video camera to record his son and caught on camera what appears to show Ceesay, who was 24, and Reed, 23, hitting the teen.

The men are charged with injury to a disabled person causing reckless serious bodily injury.

Attorney Carlo D’Angelo, who represents Ceesay, is seeking that the video not be admitted as evidence if the case goes to trial.

He argued that the video is unlawful because it was made without the consent of any of those being filmed.

State prosecutor Heath Chamness argued that “putting a nanny cam, or whatever you want to call it, up is not wiretapping.” He said the reason the defense does not want to have the video as evidence is because “what’s on the video is terrible.”

Judge Skeen set a hearing for Feb. 24 to consider the matter.

In a separate Zoom hearing, Skeen granted more time for Madeline Porter, the attorney for Reed, to talk to him about a potential plea agreement.

Porter said she has had trouble getting Smith County Jail employees to set up a Zoom meeting with her client. Skeen assured Porter that problems with setting up the meeting would quickly be resolved.

Reed could accept a plea deal and avoid going to trial.

Skeen said he would take up the plea deal on Jan. 26.

Legal proceedings against Ceesay and Reed began after the father showed the footage to law officers. A grand jury indicted the two men last year.

The 19-year-old man cannot speak, so he was unable to communicate what was happening to him, according to the warrant.

According to the arrest warrant, Ceesay and Reed initially denied to police in an interview that they were the ones assaulting the teen, who cannot speak and thus could not report potential abuse.

After police showed them the video, both confessed that it was in fact themselves, according to court records.


EARLIER STORIES

The teenager who is seen in in the video has been diagnosed with the following diseases and disorders:

  • Autism
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Impulse Control Disorder
  • ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • Moderate Intellectual Disability
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypertriglyceridemia
  • Speech Impairment
  • Enuresis

Buddy Smith III, the manager of the group home where the teen was receiving care, confirmed to police that Ceesay was the one on video and that timesheet records show that he was the only one working at the time of the assault.

The community home released this statement after the arrests:

“We are devastated and horrified that this happened to one of our loved ones. The individuals we serve are our family and we will not tolerate any type of mistreatment. We do our best to hire, train and retain employees and associates that are passionate about providing quality personalized care. Upon learning of this, we immediately reported it to the authorities and removed the employees from our payroll. The employees involved are no longer employed with Community Access and we are currently working with investigators on the matter. Community Access has served individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for 29 years providing quality care. “

TONYA MOSES, VP, COMMUNITY ACCESS IN TYLER

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