By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The lane Ordaz was in required him to turn right. He didn't realize that and wanted to go straight, in order to get to the nearby loft he shared with Roberts.
Aponte wanted to turn right onto Peak Street from the center lane, but Ordaz was in his way. In his initial statement to his foreman, Aponte said he signaled to Ordaz to turn right: "The driver of the truck look and wave at me, then he proceed to drive off straight to I-30. I then proceed to turn right to Peak..."
But when Ordaz's lawyer, John Lewis, pinned Aponte down in a deposition, Aponte painted a more colorful picture. He said Ordaz gave him the finger. Under oath, he testified he said to Ordaz, "Why you point the finger at me? I say, 'Fuck you, too.' I remember telling him, 'You need to turn right.'"
For his part, Ordaz testified: "I really could not understand what he was saying...I said, 'Do you need to turn?' And he kept babbling or whatever you might call it, and after repeating my question what does he want me to do a few times, he leaned over and grabbed something.
"And then he put it in the air, and I could see that it was a gun. It was a pistol. And then he placed it sideways and aimed it at me, and I put my hands up and just...I didn't say a word after that."
Two years have passed. Ordaz told me last week: "I remember every detail of that night."
Roberts said under oath that, while stopped in her car on the other side of the truck, she heard screaming and shouting so violent that she feared a homeless person was attacking someone. My experience is that lawyers do not casually perjure themselves.
DART has a witness backing up Aponte's story--Charlie Square, behind the wheel of the bus. He said there was no gun, only "a conversation" between Aponte and Ordaz.
Sure, maybe. But I visited a DART repair facility last week and got a good look at a DART tow truck. They have a big tank on the back to pump air into the brake system of the disabled buses they tow. The tank obscures the rear window of the tow truck. I do not see how Square could have seen anything.
I called Square, and we spoke briefly. He told me that he and Aponte had to communicate with hand signals while Aponte was towing him. I asked specifically if they had to do the hand signals "out the window."
"Yes," he said.
He wouldn't discuss the Aponte case in particular, but I interpreted what he had to say as confirming my earlier impression--that he couldn't have seen through the rear window of the tow truck.
Seems like DART would have known that.
Ordaz believes that DART, as a public entity, should have felt a heightened urgency about investigating his claim. But DART played the public agency card just the other way. DART spokesman Morgan Lyons told me DART had invoked its "sovereign immunity" from suit as a state agency. A judge agreed and barred Ordaz from suing DART. Ordaz is still suing Aponte, however, and DART is still providing Aponte with legal defense.
Lyons told me an investigation of the incident was carried out by the Dallas Police Department. But that's sort of a dodge. Jennifer Roberts made the report to the DPD, not DART. A DPD detective called her back, found out nobody was shot and never called again.
DART needed to investigate this as a personnel matter, not as a criminal complaint. They should have wanted to know if they had a dangerous employee on the street waving guns out the window.
I'm not saying Ordaz and Roberts are telling the truth and Aponte and Square are not. That question could go either way. This is my point: What Ordaz got from DART was a straight "screw you." That's why this is a lawsuit now, which is crazy in itself.
Guy calls up the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency and tells them one of their tow-truck drivers just went bananas and pulled a gun on him in traffic. What does DART do?
Zip. Is that somebody who feels bulletproof, or what?