Stephen Benavides, the Occupy Dallas protester arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer during a scuffle at the November Bank of America protest, has signed a plea deal that reduces the felony to a misdemeanor resisting-arrest charge and keeps him out of jail.
Benavides pleaded no contest to the assault charge and guilty to the resisting offense in exchange for six months deferred community supervision and a $500 fine. Benavides tells Unfair Park prosecutors also dismissed a handful of other misdemeanor charges from different dates, including one for allegedly making terroristic threats and another for resisting arrest. The agreement, he claims, doesn't come without strings attached.
"They said if you get in trouble they were going to refile those misdemeanors, and the statute of limitations is two years. It sounds like they're giving me the incentive to not get in anymore trouble," Benavides says. "That's great, but they're pretending like the Dallas Police Department didn't do anything wrong.
"The guy shoved me from the ledge and I injured my neck and knee. It sounded like a threat. You need to lay low for two years. I didn't argue. I agreed to everything."
The "guy" he's referring to is officer Jay Hollis, the off-duty cop working private security at the BoA building who was caught on tape shoving Benavides from a five-foot planter and into the street. Hollis was subsequently placed on restricted duty. A department spokesman says he has since returned to duty.
The district attorney's office, for its part, would only say in an emailed statement: "The facts of the case warrant the offer made by the State. Fortunately for all parties involved, the defendant chose to accept the plea bargain of resisting arrest. He will be on probation for six months."
Benavides says he plans to file a civil suit against the private security firm that hired Hollis and possibly the Dallas Police.