Robert Threadgill at Central Texas Medical Center after his June 22 arrest. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com.
By SEAN BATURA
The Hays County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) may soon be the subject of a Texas Rangers investigation if a pair of arrestees follow through on their stated intention to lodge a formal complaint of police brutality.
Doyle Odom, Robert Threadgill, and Stephen Threadgill of Woodcreek said HCSO deputies used excessive force in the course of a June 22 arrest. Robert Threadgill said the arrest of himself and his son Stephen, which ended with an ambulance ride to the hospital for both of them, was unwarranted. Odom, neighbor of the arrestees, said he witnessed their encounter with police. According to an HCSO investigation, deputies did not act inappropriately.
The HCSO’s account of the incident differs substantially from those of the three men. The HCSO said both Threadgills approached deputies in agitated states and used profanity as police attempted to interview a complainant. According to the HCSO, Robert Threadgill postured as if to strike police, then resisted as they attempted to handcuff him. Threadgill was eventually handcuffed after being taken to the ground, according to the HCSO.
The Threadgills and Odom said the police approached and acted aggressively, and they said Stephen Threadgill heeded his father’s request to leave the scene. The HCSO claims the son advanced upon deputies after refusing his father’s and their request that he leave the scene.
Deputies charged Robert Threadgill, 80, with disorderly conduct by profane and abusive language and with resisting arrest. Threadgill surrendered on that warrant Wednesday and was released on a $3,000 personal bond. Police charged Threadgill’s son, Stephen, with disorderly conduct by profane and abusive language.
After Hays County Sheriff Tommy Ratliff asked the Texas Rangers to review the incident, the agency informed him that unless the parties involved in the altercation make formal allegations of misconduct or criminal violations, the state will not initiate an investigation. Late last week, Robert Threadgill said he and his son would file a formal complaint against HCSO deputies.
The HCSO requested an ambulance for the Threadgills after their arrest. Wimberley EMS personnel transported the Threadgills to Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC).
Wimberley EMS Director Ken Strange said Robert Threadgill suffered a “badly sprained leg.” Strange said Stephen Threadgill was diagnosed with a concussion. The Threadgills said they suffered additional injuries resulting from being inhumanely transported to a police cruiser by deputies.
HCSO deputies arrested Robert and Stephen Threadgill after responding to a call from a Lodge at Cypress Falls employee, who claimed the elder of the two men became loud and verbally abusive after refusing to stop throwing debris over an upstream dam that forms the resort’s swimming hole on Cypress Creek. Robert Threadgill’s condominium adjoins the resort, and a dam and fence separate the properties.
Odom said he visited with the Threadgills on their patio on the day of the incident. Odom said he talked with Stephen Threadgill and his mother as the elder man went to the creek to retrieve a fishing pole on the condominium complex’s side of the creek bank. Odom said he then noticed Robert Threadgill speaking to police across the fence. Odom said after the parties conversed for “a couple minutes,” Threadgill invited the police to the condominium side to look in the creek for debris, which, he said, originated from the resort.
Said Odom: “They walked up and kind of grabbed Bob — one had him by each arm, by the elbow, and were talking to him, and Stephen started to walk down the hill and said, ‘Hey, Pop, what’s going on?’ And Bob said, ‘Hey, go back to the house, Stephen, I’ll take care of this.’ And the next thing I heard was Bob saying, ‘Hey, he’s not trespassing, he lives here.’ And that’s when they swung Bob — one of them grabbed him by the arm and started swinging him around until he fell on the ground, and then they both jumped on top of him and pulled his arms up behind his back and (were) kind of sitting on top of him. And when I looked back at Stephen, he was out cold. The last time I’d seen Stephen, he was walking back towards me, and I guess another officer came up behind him and slammed him to the ground, but he never even saw what was coming.”
Odom said Robert Threadgill attempted unsuccessfully to get his feet up underneath himself as police dragged him away.
“They wouldn’t allow him, they were just dragging him and scrapping his knees and everything along the way and just had his arms behind his back where he was handcuffed,” Odom said. “Stephen they drug him like a sack of potatoes to the car, through gravel. There was a two-rail fence. They threw Stephen through the fence. Then they approached with Bob, and they stopped for a minute. Bob got on his feet, and they said, ‘Put your head down,’ and pushed his head down under the top rail and just shoved him. The bottom rail, he couldn’t step over it so he fell on his head in the parking lot. It was unbelievable. My dad is 72 years old and I really just can’t imagine the police handling an old man like that.”
Odom said about six police officers were present at one point. According to Odom, an ambulance arrived after officers put the Threadgills in a police cruiser. Odom said EMS personnel placed Stephen Threadgill on a gurney before loading him in the ambulance. Odom said EMS personnel then retrieved Robert Threadgill and dragged him to the ambulance.
“And I stood up to the fence and I said, “Hey, guys, can you help him out a bit? He’s 80 years old,’” Odom said. “And this ‘Sergeant Young’ turned to me and just made a beeline towards me, walked up, and said, ‘What did you say?’ And I said, ‘I said he’s 80 years old, will you help him out?’ And he said, ‘Well, that’s why he’s going to the hospital.’ And I said, ‘Look, were they doing something wrong down there?’ And he said, ‘I can’t discuss the case with you. If you’re not directly behind your unit, you’re trespassing.’ And I said, ‘No, that’s not right, this is common ground down here. It’s a condominium project.’ He said, ‘Well, you need to consult your renters’ agreement.’ And I said, ‘We don’t have renters’ agreements, these are privately owned. We own these units.’ And he said, ‘Well, look, I was just responding to a call and I’m just doing my job.’ And I said, ‘It seemed a bit excessive to me.’ And he pointed at me and said, ‘I’m not talking to you anymore,’ and he turned around and walked off.”
Odom said EMS medic Kathleen Montgomery “was tremendously brave.”
Montgomery said she cannot reveal the Threadgills’ injuries without violating her Hippocratic Oath.
“We did not feel like they had any life-threatening injuries, but when we asked them if they would like to be evaluated, they both said ‘yes,’ so at that point we have a duty to take them to the hospital.” Montgomery said.
Upon being asked whether police indicated that they disagreed with EMS personnel and preferred to immediately incarcerate the Threadgills, Montgomery paused for about 10 seconds before saying, “They ended up releasing both of the subjects to us. We did end up transporting both of them.”
Montgomery said she did not feel threatened by the police. Asked if she thought police used excessive force, Montgomery said, “I have no idea. We got there and people were already in a patrol car. So what exchange happened between the parties, I don’t know.”
Strange said he drove the ambulance that transported the Threadgills.
“We don’t have any pertinent information as to whether there was abuse or not,” Strange said. “We have our own opinions about that, but we don’t have any eyewitness account of that.”
The Lodge at Cypress Falls General Manager Hunter Jones said Robert Threadgill has been “kind of a nuisance” since the business opened two and a half years ago and its owner prevented unauthorized people from fishing on the property.
“I’ve been in verbal disputes with this gentleman before because he’s tried to put fishing lines on top of the dam, which is our swimming hole,” Jones said. “We don’t like fishing hooks in the swimming hole. Little kids will get hooks stuck in their feet and then we have to deal with that. I’ve talked to him numerous times about that, because he’s done it right in front of me. And I told him, ‘Sir, you can’t do that,’ and he just yells and screams at me and says, ‘It’s the river, you can’t tell me how to fish in the river. It’s public property, remember, it’s not your property.’ And so I just leave it alone because I don’t want to make a bigger deal about it than it already is.”
Jones said Robert Threadgill verbally abused his employee on June 22 and caused some of the business’ customers to leave the area.
“Some vegetation was falling over the dam right there in between our place and (the condominium complex), and he fishes right down there on the bottom side of that dam,” Jones said. “Well, we’ve had numerous rainfalls, and that stuff is just natural … that vegetation gets pulled out from the rain and the water levels get higher and it goes over the dam. Well, I guess he thought we were like throwing it over there on his side of the dam, which we weren’t. And so he started throwing all this vegetation and stuff back up on the top side of the dam, which is our swimming hole. And so my employee told him, ‘Look, sir, you can’t do that, you can’t just throw trash up here.’ And he said, ‘Well, I’m just giving it back to y’all.’”
Jones said he did not witness the verbal exchange between his employee and Threadgill, nor the subsequent arrest. The male employee, who Jones said witnessed the entire incident, was not immediately available for comment.
“While speaking with the employee, we were standing approximately 10 to 15 feet apart and that there was no cussing, loud or angry exchange of words,” said Robert Threadgill in a written statement. “After returning to my house and visited with my neighbor, Doyle Odom, and my son Stephen for a few minutes. When I went back down to the creek I noticed that the ‘Cypress Creek Falls’ employee was speaking with three policemen. I walked over to my side of the fence and asked the employee ‘Did you really call the police?’ He did not reply.”
Jones said he spoke to his employee after the latter’s exchange with Threadgill. Jones advised his employee to call the police.
“We just wanted to file a formal complaint saying he was verbally abusive to my employee, as well as kind of running people off of our property, which is an established business — Cypress Falls Swimming and Fishing Hole,” Jones said. “And so he’s kind of messing with our business, and so I just wanted to have it documented. All the cops were there to do, originally, was just to take my employee’s statement and file a written complaint with the sheriff’s department.”
Jones said he is “completely behind” the HCSO deputies and would testify in court on their behalf.Email | Print