Grand Jury Indicts Two Detention Officers Over Death Of Psychotic Man Who Died In Custody After He was Pepper Sprayed For Flooding His Cell Toilet With His Pants
A grand jury indicted two North Texas detention officers on Monday in connection with the death of a man who died while in custody at the Arlington city jail.
Stephen Schmidt, 57, and Pedro Medina, 33, were each indicted on a charge of criminally negligent homicide for the death of Jonathan Paul, 42, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Both men were released after each posting bonds of $5,000, according to The Tarrant County Sheriff's Office.
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Paul died on March 13, four days after being arrested in his apartment complex on a disturbance call.
Witnesses said he was screaming and throwing items out of an upstairs window.
Police said that detention officers had to restrain Paul while in jail as he continued to be agitated and placed him in an isolation cell, where he was later found unresponsive. He died at a hospital.
Arlington Police released hours of video surveillance after Paul was arrested. Footage of him inside a police car showed him sobbing as he talked to himself.
Clips from inside his holding cell show more erratic behavior. He is heard crying and appears to flood his cell by taking his pants off and placing them in the toilet.
Paul died on March 13, four days after being arrested in his apartment complex on a disturbance call. Pictured left, Paul in his mugshot, and right, placing his pants in the toilet in his jail cell
Clips from inside Paul's holding cell show his erratic behavior. He is seen crying and chanting before taking his pants off
Several officers are seen entering the cell as he is ordered to face the wall and he can be heard choking as he is pepper sprayed.
He is taken to another cell and later, his body appears unresponsive and he is then taken out by paramedics.
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner has listed Paul's cause of death as 'in-custody death with application of physical restraints' and also listed 'acute psychosis' as a significant condition. The manner of death was undetermined.
The Arlington Police Department said that it has placed Medina on administrative leave with pay. Schmidt, who was lead detention officer, retired from the police department on October 22.
In a statement, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson said: 'This has been a difficult case for our community.
'We promised a thorough and vigorous investigation into this matter.
Paul appeared to flood his cell by placing his pants in the toilet, leading a number of officers to enter and pepper-spray him (above)
Paul was then taken to another cell, where several officers are seen restraining him. His family filed a wrongful death suit alleging detention officers used excessive force
'Now that the Grand Jury proceeding has concluded, we are eager to finalize the administrative case and present the findings of the investigation to the family and our community.'
The department said it hoped to complete its administrative investigation in about two weeks.
In May, Paul's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against the city of Arlington and Johnson.
The suit alleges the detention officers used excessive force to restrain Paul.
However, Robert Rogers, the attorney for both detention officers said the decision to indict them was 'completely random' and 'should send a chill down the spine of every honest, hard working law enforcement officer', NBC5 reported.
'These two dedicated public servants with impeccable records had the misfortune of being on duty when a criminal in the midst of a drug-induced psychotic episode flooded his own cell with toilet water and fiercely resisted multiple officers as they tried to move him to a safe, dry cell.
'Every officer involved, including Pedro and Steve, acted completely within the training and accepted practices of the Arlington Police Department.'
Paul was seen lying unresponsive in a cell at the Arlington city jail after being taken in there by a number of officers
Paramedics are later seen arriving to check him before taking his body out of the cell. Paul died in hospital