By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
"I wasn't comfortable with this [investigation] at all," Terrones told Larson.
He knew there'd be backlash. "At the end of May," Terrones said, "I was told that I was being removed from the Internal Affairs Division; that I had to find a new position before June 1."
The decision to move Terrones didn't come from his boss, Cunigan. It came from someone higher, Terrones said: Assistant Chief Tom Ward, who has "close ties," the LPOA's Aranda says, to Eddie Crawford. (Ward says moving Terrones had to do with the reorganization of Internal Affairs: Terrones was one of seven sergeants; the revamped IAD called for six. Ward also says he's not any closer with Crawford than he is Aranda. "In my 26 years, I've never been to lunch with [Crawford]," Ward says.)
Aranda met with police Chief David Kunkle, concerned that the transfer of one of his union members was an act of retaliation.
Kunkle didn't think so. "The discussed transfer had nothing to do with this investigation," he tells the Observer. It had everything to do with the mandate he'd given IAD to conclude its cases quicker. "It was a big mess when I got here" in May 2004, Kunkle says. "Cases that were from 2002 were still outstanding."
Terrones, for one, has never worked quickly. It took him more than two years to finish the Crawford case. But Kunkle knew if he moved Terrones, "It would be perceived by some people as retaliatory."
So Internal Affairs is where Ricardo Terrones remains, no doubt hoping to never get a case like Eddie Crawford's again. --Paul Kix
It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt--or accused of racial discrimination, or suspended, or sued for $300,000. Such is the case at the Dallas Fire Department, where an old-fashioned session of "horseplay" turned into a full-scale discrimination suit that was settled by a judge in favor of the city of Dallas last Friday.
According to court documents, the predominantly white and Hispanic firefighters at Station 57 were engaging in horseplay in August 2002 when one of the firefighters was injured. Lieutenant Mark Janick accused a colleague of assault, and Walter Dunagin III was placed on administrative leave, then suspended without pay. Dunagin claims the punishment came not because of his actions, but because he is black.
Court documents filed by Dunagin, in which he demands $300,000 in lost wages and attorney's fees, say white firefighters have not been similarly punished for horseplay. A judge ruled otherwise, writing that Dunagin had failed to prove that white officers "similarly situated" to Dunagin were treated "more favorably." Judge Jane Boyle went on to write that Dunagin may have entirely fabricated one of the more favorably treated individuals he used to make his case.
Dunagin said the horseplay was the result of a "phone can" set up at Station 57. Every time a firefighter received a personal call at the station that was answered by someone else, he or she was required to put a quarter in a can. He says calls at the station became an all-out race. Dunagin said he became apprehensive after an initial incident in which he says he was rushed by two other firefighters, both trying to reach the phone. Dunagin says they assured him the roughness was "how we play."
When the phone rang around lunchtime on August 16, 2002, Dunagin says, he and Janick made a dash for the receiver, but Dunagin "blocked" Janick and answered. After completing the call, Dunagin says, he turned to find Janick surrounded by fellow firefighters telling Dunagin to "get back."
"They made up a story that I knocked this man 20 feet away from the phone," says Dunagin, who was placed on administrative leave, "and put a big gash in his head and knocked him out cold."
Internal and public investigations yielded conflicting results about the incident, but court documents show that a grand jury declined to indict Dunagin in November 2002. Dunagin remained on leave, however, and was officially suspended for 20 days without pay in January 2003. In February 2003, Dunagin returned to work at another Dallas station.
Dunagin said he had not been made aware of the judge's decision as of last Tuesday and has not yet decided if he will appeal it. --Andrea Grimes