By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
They made the demand. Recently they received the text messages, which they showed to me. This was not a response to a 911 call. Instead, it was orchestrated from headquarters. The text messages reveal that the five patrol cars, far from rushing in to provide cover, all assembled beforehand at an agreed location a few blocks from the car wash "as per deputy chief."
Then the unnamed deputy chief, apparently running the operation by cell phone, told the officers when to "roll." At the end of the operation, one officer even complains to the others about being ordered by a deputy chief to make so many questionable drug arrests.
Let me run this back for you: The Davenports go to City Hall to ask the city manager for mercy. She directs them to a politician. Within the next 48 hours five cop cars raid their business, apparently on the basis of no real evidence. Then the cops in the raid fudge official documents to hide the role of the police hierarchy in ordering the raid.
I left messages for officer Lorne B. Ahrens, who led the raid and wrote the misleading report. He didn't call me back. I called Patricia Paulhill, the deputy chief over the Southeast Operations Division, and I left a message asking if she could explain the text messages. She didn't call back.
But let me tell you something. I don't need them to call me back. The incident report and the text messages clearly demonstrate that this was an operation orchestrated from above and not at all the ordinary enforcement activity falsely painted in the report.
I spoke with council member Chaney, who checked his calendar and told me he had been in New York on those dates. He said he had nothing to do with the raid. Suhm also said she had nothing to do with the raid.
But just look at it this way. You or I call 911 for something, we may wait hours. But Deputy Chief Paulhill can afford to tie up five patrol cars for a bogus drug raid that she apparently runs by cell phone from her desk. She's got to have a pretty powerful motivation for that, wouldn't you say?
I need to remind you of a couple other things I have already reported about the car wash and our police department. In April 2002, more than a dozen Dallas patrol cars swept onto the Davenports' lot and parked there to prevent them from doing business after the Davenports had testified against a police officer in a trial. Dallas police Chief David Kunkle confirmed the event in hearings in Austin this year.
In early June of this year, I reported that a Dallas police officer confronted the Davenports at the car wash and warned them against talking to state legislators.
Maybe I need to fill in another blank here, as well. Things like the fake drug raid in February are used by the city as legal ammunition in their lawsuit against the Davenports to prove that the Davenports have allowed a high rate of crime on their property.
Council member Chaney has confirmed to me that in at least one meeting with the Davenports he suggested they consider hiring private guards from a security company owned by council member James Fantroy. Fantroy and his security company are now targets of an FBI probe in an unrelated matter.
This is all very serious business, and it's going to get more serious toward the end of the year when that state legislative investigative committee shows up here with subpoena power and a staff.
Some people at City Hall seem to understand how serious. Last week Suhm held the first meeting of an inter-agency and community group she formed to review the city's enforcement of the nuisance abatement law.
Chief Kunkle has agreed to speak about nuisance abatement to a meeting of the Southwest Car Wash Association. That may not seem like much to you, but it means a whole lot to the car wash association. They believe they and the Davenports are getting nothing but the back of the hand from the city of Dallas, so they see Kunkle's agreement to talk to them as a good sign.
But you've still got a couple of really tough problems to deal with. One is the fact that somebody somehow can send the cops out on political raids. Call me paranoid: I think those five patrol cars were there to punish honest business people for petitioning their representatives.
The second problem is Rasansky's attitude. If the Davenports are being persecuted, tough. The worst thing is that this seems to be a fairly commonly held attitude on the Dallas City Council. Persecution is good.