Bus Gestapo

DART cops put a guy in jail 11 days for jaywalking

"Officer Number Five came over and said, 'Let's put him in cuffs,' or something to that effect." The boy was cuffed and later released.

Jacolby Green, 22, in Dallas from Shreveport looking for a job, came upon the arrest at about the same time. He said he and everybody else in the crowd were shocked by the violence of the DART police:

"When I seen it, everybody out there knew that it was wrong. They was just handling this man bad, like he was a straight murderer or hit man or some shit. It was terrible out there that day."

Here's part of the problem with DART, as opposed to a city or a county or a normal political entity run by people who have to stand for re-election. DART is a stonewall fortress. They do not care. Their lawyer wouldn't talk to me. I called every DART board member from Dallas, and they either didn't return my calls or refused to talk to me. Mark Enoch, chairman of the DART board, was polite enough to leave me a phone message saying he wouldn't talk to me. Just getting their phone numbers was an entire afternoon's chore.

Morgan Lyons, the spokesman for DART, was very helpful and provided me with the agency's official response. My point is that when a person has an issue with a city of Dallas police incident, sooner or later that person can get to an elected official at least long enough to state a case. But DART is a regional agency with an appointed board, and the people on that board are completely insulated from public pressure or concerns. That's what's wrong with allowing all these funky arm's-length agencies to have their own mini-gestapos.

Morgan Lyons told me first that Todd Lyon was arrested because DART cops found he had two outstanding warrants (both from the driving incident four years ago, which Todd Lyon says have been satisfied and should no longer have been on the DART computer).

But I pointed out to Morgan Lyons that the warrants were not discovered until long after Todd Lyon had been taken into custody. So the question was still: Why did DART police arrest Todd Lyon in the first place?

"He was arrested for resisting arrest," Lyons told me several times.

We debated that. Frankly, this was a debate between two non-legal scholars. Or legal non-scholars. I suspect Morgan Lyons is a scholar but not legal. I consider myself legal but not a scholar. At any rate, it was a mess. I sure wish DART's lawyer had come to the phone.

I said I was sure the police have to have some reason for arresting you other than that they just feel like it and then you resist. Finally Lyons compromised with me and said Lyon was arrested for jaywalking.

For me, speaking as a father, the licking Todd Lyon took from the DART cops was not the worst of this. The worst was that the cops left Lyon's 14-year-old son Jared, who lives in Tyler, alone on the street in downtown Dallas.

Jared is sort of a skatey kid, slight of build with long hair exactly like his father's. He seems pretty cool to me, but I can imagine how terrible any father would feel to see his 14-year-old son manhandled by the cops and then sent off alone into the crowds downtown.

Lyon says, "I yelled to him, 'Go to Lance's,' which is my older son who lives in North Dallas.'"

And that was the last he saw of him.

The boy did find his way to his brother's home. By the way, there is no mention of a child in the official DART report. I guess the arresting officers weren't too proud of that part.

Lyon couldn't afford to bond out of jail. After 11 days, a public defender told him the only way she could get him out was for him to enter a no-contest--in other words, guilty--plea on the charges against him. He did it.

I get calls like this all the time about the DART cops. I'm going to share some more incidents with you in the weeks ahead. If you know of one, call me at 214-757-8460.

Here's this guy with his son, and his big offense is that he crosses against a red light. And this winds up with half a dozen transit cops spraying him with pepper spray, beating on him in front of his kid and then hauling him away in cuffs. And then they send the child off alone into the city. It's like a damn scene from Sophie's Choice.

Do we really need this to keep people from jaywalking?

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