Canton, TX – The Van Zandt County sheriff and two of his officials were indicted by a grand jury on Friday for lying to a Texas Ranger who was investigating allegations of excessive force by a deputy at the county jail.
Van Zandt County District Attorney Tonda Curry said her office requested an investigation by the Texas Rangers immediately after her office received “written evidence of an incident of excessive use of force against an inmate by a member of the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office,” KETK reported.
Then-Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Craig Shelton “admitted to the Ranger that he had struck a handcuffed individual in the face without justification,” according to Curry.
But she said the investigation into Chief Deputy Shelton’s actions had brought a different problem to the surface and sparked a whole new probe into the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, KETK reported.
“Once the Rangers’ investigation was completed there was probable cause to believe that other officers at the Sheriff’s Department had witnessed the incident but were not truthful when interviewed by the Ranger,” the district attorney said. “With this information I determined that the appropriate course of action was to bring in a Special Prosecutor.”
Curry appointed Special Prosecutor Bill Turner to oversee the investigation and prosecutions that resulted from it, KETK reported.
Curry called Turner “an experienced prosecutor who served 30 years as the elected District Attorney of Brazos County in College Station.”
When the investigation was completed, the district attorney’s office took the case before a Van Zandt County grand jury on March 25, according to KETK.
The grand jury heard evidence and then indicted Van Zandt County Sheriff Steve Hendrix, Chief Deputy Jerry Wood, and Sergeant Blake Snell on charges of providing false statements to a peace officer.
Sheriff Hendrix had told KLTV in an interview in January that he didn’t expect any charges to be filed.
He has not made a statement since the indictment was announced.