'Additional Discrepancies' — Schertz PD Launches New Internal Investigation Over Improper Search Of Rayford Residence
The sleepy, suburban town of Schertz made national headlines in November after officers repeatedly kicked and tased Zekee Rayford, a Black 18-year-old. When police attempted to pull him over for allegedly running alight, he drove to his nearby father’s house and ran to the front door. Rayford said he feared for his life.
The department quickly launched an internal investigation into the officers' actions. Rayford faced felony charges for allegedly evading arrest, as well as a since-dropped misdemeanor charge for possession of marijuana.
The Guadalupe County Attorney’s office told Texas Public Radio that the charge was dropped due to a “premature search.”
It wasn’t the first time the Schertz Police Department conducted an improper search on the property.
On March 16, the Schertz Police Department executed a search warrant at the same house where Rayford was arrested in November.
“Following the execution of the search, charges were not filed by Schertz Police Department because an error was discovered in the affidavit prepared by Officer Chris Martinez that was sent to the Guadalupe County Attorney,” a city spokesperson told Texas Public Radio in a written statement.
An affidavit is a sworn statement typically required to obtain a search warrant. Purposefully submitting an affidavit with false information is a crime — perjury.
However, the affidavit contained “a copy and paste error,” according to the city. At the time, no internal investigation was launched.
But in late November — about three weeks after police violently arrested Rayford and charged him with possession of marijuana found in a separate improper search — “it was discovered that there were additional discrepancies with the affidavit (used to obtain a warrant for the March 16 search) that were not known to the department in March,” the city’s statement said.
The Schertz Police Department launched an internal investigation into the actions of officer Chris Martinez on Nov. 30.
“While the investigation is ongoing, Officer Martinez will be used in a support role with the Drug Enforcement Agency where he works as a Task Force Officer, and pending the outcome of the investigation, he will not be issuing any affidavits,” the city’s statement said. “If any intentional wrongdoing is found as a result of the internal investigation, appropriate actions will be taken.”
Depending on the details of an offense, perjury charges can range from a Class A misdemeanor carrying no more than a year in county jail to a third degree felony carrying two to 10 years in state prison.
Artessia House, Rayford’s civil rights attorney, said the case has been troubling since the start, when a video was published of officers repeatedly kicking Rayford outside his father’s house.
“That shocked the conscience,” she said. “And now we're finding out about troubled pasts as it relates to the officers involved in this particular incident, but also in past interactions between law enforcement and Zekee Rayford. It just makes everything look suspect. We kind of have this idea about ‘fruit of the poisonous tree.’”
House said the March 16 search was based on “perjured” information from a confidential informant. The Guadalupe County Attorney’s Office declined to comment on that allegation.
Dina Rayford, Zekee’s stepmother, said her stepson’s mental health is still suffering.
“He still can't sleep good, and started on antidepressants,” she said. “He's not the same person. So it definitely has affected him.”
The family’s lawyers are expected to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Schertz Police Department.
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