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Texas Deputy Pays Price for Testifying

Without the testimony of former Bexar County (TX) Jail guard Linda Grady, one of her former colleagues would never have been indicted for striking a prisoner, prosecutors say. As it was, Charles Mizell was convicted June 8, 2000 on one count each of official oppression and violating a person's civil rights. He was assessed a $2,000 fine.

The charges stem from a November 18, 1998 incident at the jail. Joseph Cuellar was one day away from being transferred to a state prison when he stood up from a card game and, using sign language, motioned to a passing trusty pushing a cart that he wanted food.

A guard interpreted Cuellar's hand signal as a threat. Cuellar was removed from the cell and restrained in a chair in a hallway. He testified at trial that Mizell walked by and asked him his name. When he said he'd already given his name to another deputy, Mizell struck him across the face.

Linda Grady, a petite, grayhaired woman who was one of four other deputies in the hall stepped between Mizell and Cuellar.

"I put my hands up to Mizell and told him to back away," Grady said. "Mizell took my right arm, pulled me away, and told me it didn't concern me."

When prosecutor Tamara Butler tried to elicit testimony about one of the other deputy's report of the incident, its author, Cpl. Alfredo Franco, said he had no recollection of the report. Angered by his evasiveness, 187th District Judge Raymond Angelini ordered Franco to leave the courtroom and find the report.

Franco returned later insisting the report was lost. Also "lost" was a videotape another deputy made of the jail nurse treating Cuellar for his injuries.

The remaining two deputies who were in the corridor, Richard Hernandez and Johnny Lopez, "were six feet away and didn't hear or see anything," assisting prosecutor Tony Reyes told the San Antonio Express News.

Grady said she was known as an "inmate lover" and looked down on by other deputies. For three weeks after reporting the incident, at her supervisor's insistence, Grady was escorted to her car at the end of each shift. Shortly thereafter she was fired for failing to pass a firing range test. Except for Mizell, the other guards remain employed at the jail.

Source: San Antonio Express News

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