July 04, 2008
Deputies arrest plaintiff in suit against Sheriff's office

In late May, the Ibarra brothers and several other people filed a lawsuit against the Harris County Sheriff's Office, claiming that its deputies retaliated against people who filed complaints about them. Now one of those plaintiffs has been arrested by Sheriff's deputies.

A part-time Houston municipal court judge and law professor who is one of five citizens alleging intimidation and harassment in a lawsuit against the Harris County Sheriff's Office was released from jail overnight after sheriff's deputies arrested her.

April Jill Walker is charged with evading arrest in a motor vehicle, a felony, said her attorney, Lloyd Kelley.

Walker posted $2,000 bail and was released from the Harris County Jail, according to court records.

The incident occurred Wednesday evening in her Spring-area neighborhood, culminating with Walker's arrest in her driveway.

"He (a deputy) slammed her to the ground and said 'I know who you are. You're the judge' and he used the 'n' word," said Kelley.

A Sheriff's Office spokesman did not return calls for comment.

Walker's two sons, 15 and 17, initially were detained by deputies along with several other teenagers about 8:30 p.m. in their Olde Oaks neighborhood. The teens were placed in the back of patrol cars. One eventually was released and one charged with trespassing, Kelley said.

At the time the boys were taken into custody, Walker went to the area and was told to leave, Kelley said. She then drove down the street to tell a neighbor that her son also was being detained.

When Walker tried to leave the area of her neighbor's home, a deputy "slammed the hood" of her car with his hand, Kelley said.

The deputy followed Walker as she drove home and arrested her after she pulled into her driveway, he said.

Neighbors reported the deputies were "high-fiving" each other, Kelley said.

That was the story that appeared on the front page of yesterday's Chron; here's the KTRK story as well. Today's version, at the same URL, has the deputies' version of events, and it's very different:

In contrast to allegations by April Jill Walker, sheriff's Capt. John Martin said the arresting deputies were not aware of her office or the fact that she is a plaintiff in a lawsuit accusing members of the Sheriff's Office of intimidation and harassment.


Martin said Thursday that Walker, who also teaches law at Texas Southern University, identified herself only as a lawyer during the incident and that the deputies did not know she is a judge or is suing the Sheriff's Office.

He said the Sheriff's Office will investigate the high-five allegation, but surmised that if it is true, the deputies may have been celebrating the peaceful end of a high-speed chase through a residential neighborhood.

The incident began after Walker's sons, ages 15 and 17, were detained about 8:30 p.m. along with several other young people in the Olde Oaks neighborhood where they live.

Martin said a resident who had been asked to keep an eye on a neighbor's house while the neighbor was away reported that people were in the house.

Deputies came to the house and detained the group. Walker, who lives a short distance away, learned of the situation and drove to the house.

Martin said that Walker saw her two sons in the backseat of a patrol car, opened a door to talk with them and was warned by a deputy to step away from the car. The deputy told Walker that she was at the scene of an active investigation and could talk with her sons later, Martin said.

Walker left and returned several times, Martin said, before a deputy approached her car and told her to leave. He also told her that she was not wearing her safety belts, Martin said, but she backed out of the driveway and went through a stop sign at high speed while still in reverse.

After Walker shifted into drive and sped away, Sgt. J. Cook pursued with his emergency lights engaged, Martin said. He said Walker refused to stop and drove home at 50 to 60 mph.

When confronted in her driveway, Walker resisted before being arrested, Martin said.

He added that her sons and the others who were found in the house were charged with trespassing and possession of marijuana.

Walker said that, although no one in the group lives at that address, her sons are friends of the people who live there and frequently visit them.

And just in case that isn't enough, here's KTRK's latest entry, in which Walker disputes the deputies' version. All I can say at this point is good luck to the judge and jurors that get the task of sorting it all out.

UPDATE: And here's the latest Chron story, with more from Judge Walker.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 04, 2008 to Local politics
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