San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

July 11th, 2010
Threadgills to complain about HCSO treatment

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Robert Threadgill at Central Texas Medical Center after his June 22 arrest. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

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.

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20 thoughts on “Threadgills to complain about HCSO treatment

  1. No man at this age should be dragged anywhere at any time unless suffering from a medical condition and cannot walk. Patience people. People at that age are sometimes more outspoken. Do people not know this already?

  2. What a stinking crock. Hope Jones, employee and the county ARSE-I-FERS all get the justice they deserve…

    in some dark damp quiet basement where no one can hear their screams.

    Where’s the Equalizer when you need him?\

    Have a nice life…

  3. OMG!!! I can’t believe anyone would believe any of what is written above. As far as the EMS goes, it sounds like some good dancing around questions, I hope the answers come out in an investigation. Robert Threadgill would never do anything to like throw a hooked line into a swimming hole. He has grandchildren! That’s just dumb. It doesn’t matter if the man was dancing a jig and running around, ONE DOES NOT TREAT AN 80 YEAR OLD THAT WAY. Serously, people, What part of thowing men head-first, through a rail fence, with hands cuffed behind backs IS NOT POLICE BRUTALITY. This makes no sense. Can someone please answer this?

  4. Make sure to report incidents such as this to a higher authority.. The Governor’s office should be alerted to these incidents to which I am increasingly seeing take place. It is never anything to take lightly when a city, county,state or Federal employee abuses his authority or, abuses mentally or physically, the “alleged” criminal. This is a matter I will be watching. Sheriff Tommy Ratliff would NEVER allow this to happen (being a former Ranger and all). He has more training then this. We pay these officers and we have had too many disturbing “incidents” happen among here in San Marcos Texas.

  5. Pingback: Police Chief: Report Burglars Online; U.S.A. Loses Credit; Gates Needs More War Money « War, Money, & American Law

  6. It was an 80 year old man who pulled out a gun and shot someone becasue he did not want to wear a seatbelt. Every person is capable of violence dont fool yourself.

  7. It was a cop in San Francisco who shot a handcuffed, face-down, young man in the back because he was resisting arrest. He said he thought his gun was a taser. A cop in Austin shot an unarmed man in the back screaming repeatedly, “don’t shoot me I don’t want to die”, as he was being chased down and shot like a rabid dog.

    You’re right Rusty, everyone is capable of violence. All the worse when it is a trusted member of society with extra-legal protections not afforded the rest of the public.

  8. I wouldn’t say cops have any other legal protections. I believe the guys in New Orleans are going to end up facing the death penalty.

    I agree that because someone is old does not make uncapable of being violent. My grandfather was a mean ol *******.

  9. Rusty, the fact is, Mr Threadgill was not armed. What the officers may have thought, or what anyone is capable of doesn’t matter, because he was not armed. So please do not taint Trooper Vetter by associating him with these officers.

    Let’s add to x’s list the Houston PD handcuffing a man and throwing him face first into a bayou, and the New York PD pumping dozens of rounds into an innocent man.

  10. I understand that in this case not all of the facts are known yet. I understand that the public face of this incident is ugly. If the officers accused in this case did in fact mistreat a suspect, they should be dealt with harshly and quickly.

    All of that aside, it’s still troubling to read the commentary posted here (and similar threads) and see the range of emotions directed at our law enforcement officers in general. It’s true that there are occasionally “bad apples” on the force, but there is no reason or excuse for some of the comments on here that attempt to paint all officers with the same brush.

    These are people who put their lives on the line daily to ensure the public safety – not too much different than those in the military, as a matter of fact. As an institution, law enforcement deserves our gratitude and respect, not distrust and hostility.

  11. Dano, I am troubled by what looks like the SO sweeping this under the rug. In just a few days, with no indication that the only disinterested witness was questioned. the SO says everything is fine. Hhhmmm? If that is really the case, why have all the names not been released? Am I holding the SO to a pretty high standard of behavior? You bet your life, really, that is what we are doing, betting our lives. Are some of the comments, mostly on other sites, over the top? Sure enough. Serious questions remain unanswered, until they are, there will be distrust; and given the nature of the event, the SO has earned a fair share of that distrust.

    Don’t forget that if this goes to trial and the SO loses, it’s us taxpayers that will be footing the bill.

  12. The SO would not have stated there was no wrong doing and then called the rangers in to investigate. If they would have been able to say there was wrong doing they would have fired the deputies and offered them up to the public as a symbol that we do things right over here. It would a have been a political gain and a media success to fire them. Very much similar to the drama being played in the media involving SMPD. Everyone is happy the dog officer got fired but they had to take him back when it went to court. Public happy, public not happy, SMPD we did the right thing we had no choice. Public media success.

    The SO watched the car videos and listened to the audio and determined that the officers acted correctly. The rangers were called in as a measure to say look we did this investigation and the rangers did theirs and we all came to the same conclusions. Calling the rangers in is to pacify everyone. The rangers will watch the video and come to the same conclusions the SO did and everyone will have to be satisfied with that because it was the rangers who came up with it. Public media success.

  13. One problem Bobby, there’s a witness. And there may not be any video, this wasn’t a traffic stop, it was apparantly behind the building with some kind of fence involved. If there is no video, but a witness, who doesn’t have a dog in the fight, officer lose.

    Bottom line, no matter what the Rangers decide, I’l wage it goes to court, and it’s going to cost us, the taxpayers, money; which should come out of the officers pocket, not ours.

  14. I guess you folks don’t know the Threadgills. Mean and loud to say the least, and lets not mention the drugs. People in these condominiums have been complaining about them for years. The police know who they are, and how they act.
    Was the old man treated poorly? Yes, I would bet so. Was he threatening anyone? Yes, I would bet so. If the deputies were controlling him, do you think they might want to keep an eye on his son? If I was arresting a family member, I sure would want to control his son (who was making a movement towards me). The deputies didn’t drive up to an old man fishing on a creek bank and beat him up. They investigated reports of a mean old codger who was looking for a fight. ACT RIGHT AND NOBODY GETS HURT.

  15. You’re correct Andy, I don’t know them. I also still don’t know the names of the SO. I do know the name of the witness Mr. Odom, who has stated the son was walking away from the SO. And controlling is a bit different from giving him a consussion. The SO needs to at least come clean with the names of the officers.

  16. Andy B. Robert and Clois Threadgill are not mean people, they have lived in Wimberley for years with not a thing happening. However, the past couple of years there has been problems with the HOA and the new owners of some of the property. Robert and Clois really just want to live out their lives in peace. And as far as drugs go? Are you crazy? Robert and Clois have never smoked cigaretes, do not even drink alcohol! Not even wine. Can you say the same? Robert volunteers an elementary school once a week to talk to kids about the “old days”. He does have a loud voice but he is a singer and knows how to project. The fact that not everyone around could hear what he was saying just goes to show that he wasn’t yelling.
    But back to the point. Is shoving an 80 year old man through a rail fence with hands cuffed behind his back common police proceedure? Everyone seems to be forgetting that their are some serious problems to having law enforcement officers who will abuse their power. I hate to think that these guys will not be taken off the streets until they have killed someone. The Threadgills only want the people of Wimberley safe from officers like these. I have seen officers treat suspects of serious crimes with more care than these officers did the Threadgills. I have also seen officersmistreat people who as you put it “act right” .
    Take a peek at the ME Against Domestic Violence F/b page, you would be amazed how many Officers beat their wives. I’ve read the stories and seen the pics of these ladies. The point is while there are good cops out there, there are also bad ones just looking for a fight, be they criminal or not.

  17. After rereading this article, I find it interesting that Jones is quoted as saying “I’ve been in verbal disputes with this gentlemen 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.”
    The public can pay to get into the “swimming hole” where they can swim, float on innertubes or FISH. Says it right on the sign at the entrance.

  18. I knew bobby and his father sense i moved to Wimberley when i was about 10 now im 24. His father the elderly man would fish with me when i was younger a great role model. later on in life about age 16 i met his son down at cypress falls before these new asshole owners took over. I was young and headed for trouble bobby helped me with that. He told me my poetry could be turned into music. Both these men were always more than good to me and I’m really upset almost cried reading what happened… Cypress falls is the Threadgills!!!! Yall get out.

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