National Police Misconduct Reporting Project

Hays County Texas deputies accused of excessive force against 80yr-old man and his son

80-year-old Robert Threadgill after his encounter with four Hays County Texas deputies.

It was about 6:00pm on June 22, 2010 when Robert Threadgill, 80-year-old former member of the 1970’s singing group “The Threadgills”, had realized that he forgot his fishing pole at a nearby community-property creek called Woodcreek behind his condo where he fished often and had walked over to retrieve it. While there, still on a community property section of lawn, Mr. Threadgill apparently got into a minor verbal dispute with an employee of a Cypress Creek Falls Lodge, who was on another side of a fence next to their property, about debris those employees would throw into the creek.

The Cypress Creek employee apparently called the Hays County Sheriff’s Department after the dispute and apparently reported that Threadgill was trespassing even though he never crossed the tall fence that separates the properties. Four Hays County deputies arrived in response to the call and, Threadgill claims, when he saw the deputies talking with the employee he walked over and asked them to come over to his side of the fence so he could explain what the dispute was about.

However, when the deputies crossed over they immediately told him that he was trespassing, even though he was still on the opposite side of the fence. At this point Mr. Threadgill’s son, Stephen, began to walk over to see what was going on when his father told him everything was fine and to just go back to the house. At that point, things took a strange turn for the worst when two deputies allegedly tackled Mr. Threadgill to the ground, grinding their knees into his back and his head while another deputy approached Stephen, as he was walking back towards the house, and apparently hit him from behind with a baton and knocked him unconscious.

A neighbor, who witnessed the incident, confirmed that he saw two deputies throw the 80-year-old Threadgill to the ground then jump on his head and back while wrenching his arms behind him until Threadgill screamed out in pain. He then looked over to see Stephen unconscious on the ground with two other deputies handcuffing him.

The neighbor then claims that he watched as the deputies dragged both Stephen and Robert then threw both of them between rungs in the fence so that they both landed face-first on to the pavement on the opposite side while their hands were still cuffed behind them. He says that they then dragged Stephen about 70 yards, while still unconscious, across an asphalt parking lot until his knees were skinned to the bone. The elder Threadgill claims that deputies told him he was resisting since he couldn’t get his feet underneath him fast enough as they dragged him along the ground as well.

While deputies tossed Threadgill and his son into patrol cars Robert’s wife was trying to tell her husband that she was calling their other son when she too was threatened with arrest. However, before deputies could leave, two Fire Dept EMTs, who weren’t called but were nearby and decided to stop,  examined the two and informed the deputies that they had to be taken to the hospital before taken into custody due to their injuries, especially since the younger Threadgill was still unresponsive.

While no charges were placed against Stephen, who suffered a concussion, broken ankle, as well as back and rib injuries, a warrant has been filed for Robert Threadgill on a stand-alone resisting arrest charge while he has been recovering from a shoulder injury, that will require surgery to repair, in addition to injuries to his face and leg… but, so far, neither have been cited for trespassing.

The neighbor who witnessed the incident says he is “horrified that this could happen in a quiet little town” and that “there was no violence or threats until police arrived and, even then, the only violence done was by the four deputies.” Threadgill’s daughter says she’s worried since her dad now has to pay $1,000 bond on the resisting charge and lives on a fixed income.

The Hays County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to requests for more information about the incident from Robert’s daughter. She has posted the story on her Facebook page devoted to Domestic Violence issues and we agreed to re-post the story to make it public after she told us about it.

UPDATE: The San Marcos Local News gives us the sheriff’s version of events (and nothing but). Seems 80-year-old Robert Threadgill was charged with “disorderly conduct by profane and abusive language and resisting arrest” while Stephen Threadgill was knocked unconscious for “disorderly conduct by profane and abusive language”.

I guess that justifies hospitalizing an 80-year-0ld man and his 56-year-old son, at least according to the sheriff, who found no problem with how his deputies handled the incident.

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