A Tarrant County judge sentenced two former Arlington jailers to one year of probation Tuesday for their role in the 2015 death of inmate Jonathan Paul. Pedro Medina and Steven Schmidt both pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges. Each initially received a felony charge of criminally negligent homicide.
Arlington police picked up Paul for outstanding warrants in March 2015 after he created a disturbance at his home in an apartment complex near the University of Texas at Arlington. After arriving at the city jail, he was transferred to isolation because, Arlington jail personnel claimed, he was creating a disturbance.
Sometime after Paul's placement in isolation, he got into a fight with several jailers. Eventually, the jailers pinned Paul to the ground and pepper-sprayed him. It took EMTs more than 30 minutes to treat Paul, who was lying unresponsive on the floor of his cell. Three days later, Paul died after suffering a kidney injury, respiratory failure, liver failure and a sustained fever of more than 103 degrees.
Arlington police investigators determined in December 2015 that Medina and Schmidt ignored Paul's medical needs, contributing to his death. Last year, the city of Arlington reached a $1.25 million settlement with his family.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office said in a statement that it believes the agreement reached with Medina and Schmidt is in the best interest of the officers and Paul's family.
"Both defendants will have to strictly uphold the conditions imposed by the court in order to successfully complete their sentences," the DA's office said. "We are hopeful their accountability for their roles in this tragedy will bring some measure of closure for the Paul family."
On Tuesday, Paul's uncle Marvin Phillips told a Tarrant County courtroom that he forgave the defendants, according to WFAA-TV
(Channel 8). "I can only forgive you because the God I serve, I have to forgive you. But I still hurt. I'm still angry. I'm still upset," Phillips said. "Where does it stop as far as with how you handle inmates, with how you handle human beings?"
If each jailer completes his year of probation without incident, he will be eligible to apply for an order of nondisclosure that would seal his criminal record from release to employers or the public.