TYLER, Texas (KETK) – A second former sergeant has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice following the plea agreements of two other former Van Zandt County officers.
Blake Snell, 28, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to felony obstruction of justice in federal court, and submitted a binding plea agreement that once accepted will sentence him to one year of probation.
Charges were filed in the federal court on July 1 after his criminal charges in Van Zandt County for the same offense were dropped earlier this year.
Snell was charged in Van Zandt County for misdemeanor giving a false report to a Texas during the investigation of former Chief Deputy Steven Craig Shelton.
“Snell knowingly misled the Texas Rangers by saying he did not see [Shelton] strike [the detainee] while they were handcuffed,” Matthew Tannenbaum with the DOJ Civil Rights division said in court.
Snell was indicted in Van Zandt County for the same offense of misleading the Texas Rangers, which he admitted to being being guilty of in federal court, but the charge was dropped after the district attorney agreed to dismiss in exchange for Snell’s resignation.
“It was more important to me to protect the integrity of investigations by getting him out of the sheriff’s office than to get a conviction for a misdemeanor,” Van Zandt County District Attorney Tonda Curry said.
Curry also said that Snell’s resignation was important to the agreement because if he had been convicted of his Van Zandt County charge, Snell would not have been disqualified from law enforcement like he would be after a felony conviction.
Shelton and former Van Zandt jail sergeant David Yager pleaded guilty to deprivation of civil rights where Shelton admitted to striking a handcuffed detainee last week, and Yager admitting to tasing a restrained detainee at the Van Zandt County Jail.
Shelton submitted a plea agreement that recommends 44 months in prison, and Yager’s plea agreement recommended 42 months in prison.