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Navarro College Cop Speaks Out on Alleged Racial Profiling of Student Athlete

A Navarro College cop said he was allowed to search an ex-student athlete's dorm without a warrant. Defense attorneys say otherwise.
A Navarro College cop said he was allowed to search an ex-student athlete's dorm without a warrant. Defense attorneys say otherwise. Navarro College Dept of Public Safety
When Keith Johnson read the police report, he could hardly believe it. “Every time I read it, I was thinking, ‘What am I missing, what am I missing?’” Johnson recalled. “I’ve been a cop for a very long time, and I’ve never heard of something like this.”

Johnson, who served 27 years with the Dallas Police Department, had recently accepted a “retirement job” with Navarro College’s police force. Soon after, a fellow officer showed him a report documenting Officer David Arnett’s search of Michael Police, then a student-athlete on Navarro’s football team, in March 2020.

The report, Johnson explained, details how Arnett found Police and a friend smoking a Black n' Mild cigar near campus, searched Police for drugs and then conducted an exhaustive sweep of Police’s dorm.

Arnett never found marijuana on Police. He didn't find any when digging around his dorm room either. According to Police's attorney, the cop only found a roach on Police's friend.

“If I did something like that, a Dallas police sergeant reading that report would refer me to internal affairs for investigation,” Johnson said. “And the College, in the report, they’re just open with it.”

In body camera footage recorded during the search of Michael Police’s dorm, a college employee can be seen joining Arnett.

The employee explains to Police that college law enforcement can move seamlessly between two roles: one as a cop and one as a member of Navarro College’s administration. Arnett’s authority as an administrator, the employee explains, allows him to search the dorm without a warrant — and without officially arresting either Police or his friend.

“This is important to citizens in Navarro County because this isn’t just college kids. We don’t let cops do that, because we don’t let cops do that.” - Ray Hindieh, former Dallas District Attorney, defense attorney

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“The police wear about three to four different hats. They put the police hat on, that’s one hat. Then he puts the college administrator hat on, that’s another hat. So he can do the same thing,” the college employee explains. Arnett echoes the employee's explanation in the video, claiming he was conducting a health and safety check in his role as a college administrator.

Ray Hindieh, a former assistant district attorney in Dallas now working as Police's lawyer, said Arnett’s actions appear to violate Michael Police’s Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless and unreasonable searches of private property. “There’s nothing about living in a dorm room that makes that room not your home and not subject to the Fourth Amendment,” Hindieh said.

Still, the report made its way from Arnett to the chief of the Navarro College Department of Public Safety, then on to the president of Navarro College without issue. It was then directed to the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office.

Hindieh said that Navarro County District Attorney William Thompson continues to pursue the case against Michael Police — a petty misdemeanor charge for possession of drug paraphernalia — with zeal.

During pretrial proceedings, meanwhile, a Navarro County District Judge quashed Hindieh’s subpoenas for the college’s internal health and safety check protocols. Arnett, meanwhile, has been allowed to take the stand and testify at length, while the court continued denying Hindieh’s attempts to call witnesses from Navarro College to testify about the school's health and safety policies.

“I’ve just never seen anything like this in my 10 years practicing law,” said Hindieh.

The Navarro County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment.

"The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and all other laws and regulations have to fall under that document,” Hindieh said. “This is important to citizens in Navarro County because this isn’t just college kids. We don’t let cops do that, because we don’t let cops do that.”
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Michael Murney is a staff writer at the Dallas Observer and a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. His reporting has appeared in Chicago’s South Side Weekly and the Chicago Reader.
Contact: Michael Murney