VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – Grand Jury indictments reveal more details into alleged misconduct by a local sheriff and two other officials.
The indictments, filed on March 25, say that Sheriff Steve Hendrix, Chief Deputy Jerry Wood and Sergeant Blake Snell all denied seeing a former chief deputy hit an inmate. Van Zandt County District Attorney Tonda Curry said that former Chief Deputy Craig Shelton admitted to a Texas Ranger that he had “struck a handcuffed individual in the face without justification.”
Each document contains several details listed in separate paragraphs, each claim outlined below.
Documents allege that Hendrix did the following:
- Said he did not see Shelton hit an inmate
- Said he “did not think that anybody engaged verbally” with the inmate
- Said during a meeting to discuss a complaint concerning the arrest of an inmate that he was not aware Shelton was the subject of the complaint
- Said that Shelton had not told him he hit the inmate until the Thursday before Jan. 11
Documents also allege that Wood:
- Said he didn’t see anyone get hit during the incident
- Said he did not hear Shelton apologize for hitting the inmate
- Said he was not aware that Shelton was the subject of the complaint
For Snell, documents allege that he:
- Said he did not see Shelton hit the inmate though he was in close proximity at the time of the incident
- Said he did not see Shelton use force against the inmate
- Denied leading a deputy away from the incident because that deputy “did not need to see the incident”
On Tuesday, Hendrix’s attorney, Kenneth M. Biggs, sent a release to KETK News calling the accusations “baseless.”
“Our firm along with Attorney Greg Waldron have been retained to represent Van Zandt County Sheriff Stephen Hendrix regarding the recent indictment returned by a Van Zandt County Grand Jury for False Statement to a Peace Officer. It is our understanding that these allegations surround the Sheriff’s account of events that resulted in the resignation of former Chief Deputy Craig Shelton.
Despite recent media reports and other comments made publicly, no false statement was made during or since the inception of the investigation into the alleged misconduct of Mr. Shelton. The Van Zandt County Sheriff has been and will continue to be fully cooperative with any state or federal investigators who seek to acquire information related to this alleged misconduct.
We believe the charges brought in this indictment are baseless and the Sheriff looks forward to defending the allegations in court. Due to the ongoing nature of a criminal prosecution, the Sheriff and his representatives cannot make any further comment on the matter. The Sheriff is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support and respectfully asks for patience until this matter can be resolved in court.“–STATEMENT FROM HENDRIX’S ATTORNEYS