Help, It's the Police!

Well, I guess I need your help. I have two very different versions here of a story about the DART police. The first version is that they beat up, Maced and jailed Todd Lyon again for no good reason. He's the guy I wrote about last year who said DART cops beat up him and his teenage son for jaywalking ("Bus Gestapo," December 8). The other take is that Lyon is crazy and he's been deliberately hanging around in front of DART cops trying to taunt them into beating him up and gassing him.

Somebody out there saw this second incident. Somebody knows what happened. I believe there are pictures. I badly want to see those pictures. This is now personal.

Not that I'm the only person worried about the DART cops. The FBI is looking into this too. I had to tell DART the FBI was investigating them. When I did, DART shrugged it off. Let me tell you: This is not an agency that worries a whole lot.

Lyon says two DART cops on bicycles spotted him in the West End on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. He says they recognized him as the man I had written about in my column, tossed him on the sidewalk, Maced him and took him to jail, laughing the whole time about how they wanted to see their names in the Dallas Observer. After serving several days, he pleaded "no contest" because he didn't have any money, and he wanted to get out of jail.

The names of the officers who arrested Lyon this second time are Louis Pacheco, 29, and Michael Schmidt, 37. I will give you their version and Lyon's.

The cops say Lyon was not where he told me he was. According to their report, they say they found him on the property of the DART West End Transit Station, where he had been forbidden to go after last year's incident. They say he identified himself to them as "Jim Bowles" (same name as the former Dallas County sheriff).

When they moved to arrest him for trespassing and giving a false name, they say Lyon ran from them.

Lyon agrees with that part. He says he did run. But he says they started hassling him far away from any DART property.

The cops say when they caught up with Lyon he went into a Mike Tyson routine, "both closed fists up in a fighting stance." So they threw him down, cuffed him and Maced him.

I left messages at DART for both cops. They didn't call back. I am relying on their official report for their version. I also tried to speak to DART police Chief James Spiller, and, as always, he refused to speak, according to DART spokesman Morgan Lyons. Spiller is the head of a major urban police agency, and he lacks the cojones to do a simple interview. That tells me a lot right there.

Here's a recap of the first incident: On October 27 of last year, DART cops arrested Lyon and his 14-year-old son on Pacific Avenue downtown. Witnesses told me they saw the police beat up Lyon and Mace him and saw the DART cops punch the kid around as well. The cops later uncuffed the boy and left him downtown alone at night.

A spokesman for DART told me that Lyon was arrested and sent to jail for 11 days for "resisting arrest." I asked, "Resisting arrest for what?" The spokesman said, "Resisting arrest." Later he amended that to jaywalking.

After that incident, Lyon was given a "criminal trespass warning" that effectively barred him from entering the West End DART Transit Station. He depends on DART for transportation. In order to get to the West End on St. Patrick's Day, he says he rode the DART train to Reunion Station and walked back across downtown to the West End.

He says two DART cops on bicycles spotted him just as he entered the West End, blocks away from the West End Transit Station.

"They said, 'Hey, you're the guy who told all those lies about us in the Observer.'

"My first response was, 'No, you got me confused.' Because I don't want any trouble. I'm not on DART property, and they're not even supposed to be talking to me.

"The Hispanic officer said, 'Well, I got a picture, I can compare it to you.' Well, hey, that got a rise out of me. That got a laugh. I said, 'Look, you carry a picture of me? Well, that explains why you're stalking me.'

"I'm trying to be funny at this point. I guess they don't see the humor in it. Then they say, 'Well, we want to be in the next story. We want our names in the paper.' I believe the bald officer is talking now. He says, 'I don't want to be listed as Officer Number One or Number Two. I want my name in the paper.'

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze