CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — What began as the case of an alleged parole violator evading Nueces County Sheriff's Office deputies has led to an administrative investigation within that organization, and an order for the county attorney and sheriff's officials to turn over documents related to that investigation to the district attorney's office.
Jacob Alan Judd led deputies on a chase into Oso Bay on Jan. 10, after allegedly shooting at deputies when they attempted to pull him over and arrest him for a parole violation.
But Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez told 3NEWS on Friday that when his office reviewed the information it had on the arrest, it led to more questions, leading first district attorney Angelica Hernandez to ask for the sheriff's office to turn over administrative files related to the case.
The files in question contain statements deputies were compelled -- or ordered -- to make to superiors related to the case. However, Garrity rights protect public servants, such as law enforcement, from being fired as a result of these statements.
"Garrity protection for law enforcement officers insures them -- and we advise them during an internal affairs investigation -- we advise them that anything that is discovered in this compelled interview – and that’s the big operative word there, compelled – when an employee is compelled to give a statement and if they refuse to comply, then they could be terminated," he said. "Then we have to assure them that any evidence or any material that is discovered in that compelled administrative process will not be used against them criminally."
These files are what the district attorney's office had requested and were granted Friday, with certain conditions.
"Judge Pulcher ruled that we will be turning over our three internal affairs investigation files to the district attorney’s office," said Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper.
Pulcher also limited the access to those documents to a select few people.
Anything sheriff's office employees said in these documents also can not be used against them criminally, Hooper said.
"Now, a grand jury, the Texas Rangers, another law enforcement agency can do a criminal investigation related to the same incident that necessitated the administrative investigation, but information that is collected and gathered in an internal affairs investigation should not be used on a criminal process," Hooper said.
Gonzalez said his office needs to see the files to understand the circumstances surrounding Judd's arrest.
"Right now the investigation is still pending," he said. "What we want to do is just gather information and find the truth. And that’s all we’re trying to do at this point. We haven’t seen the documents, and so, um, we’ll see what unfolds."
He said that clarifying what happened during the course of law enforcement's interaction with Judd is necessary to upholding the law.
"We hope just to find out what the truth is regarding any involvement that may have occurred regarding this individual who was accused of a crime who is actually a bad guy," he said. "Anything that may compromise that investigation discredits that investigation and ultimately stops us from seeking justice."
The county attorney and sheriff's office have two weeks to turn over the documents, Gonzalez said, and once they have reviewed the materials, his office will have a better idea of how to proceed.
"It all depends," he said. "That case was not dismissed, it was no-charged, and so there’s a difference regarding that, and investigations or pending cases are always evolving."
For example, the sheriff's office's materials could uncover more information, he said, and the case against Judd could be refiled or re-indicted.
"We respect the judge’s decision on this," Hooper said. "It’s his job to make these decisions and we respect the process, and of course we will honor his decision."