Cop Trial 0209
A Harris County jury on Friday continued deliberating the fate of a sheriff’s deputy accused of beating a motorist after an early morning traffic chase in 2015.
Sgt. Marco Carrizales faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted of aggravated assault in a case where he is accused of smashing Ismael Garza Jr. in the face, fracturing his eye socket.
Prosecutors have tried to show that Carrizales was acting outside the law when he pursued Garza at speeds of up to 100 mph, and then injured him. Garza, a 30-year-old carpenter, ran a stop sign outside a La Porte refinery during shift change.
It was about 5:00 a.m. when Garza, who was driving home from a late-night barbecue, sped through the stop sign without stopping, he acknowledged on the witness stand.
Carrizales, who was directing traffic as a side job with another officer, then pursued Garza in his personal truck, without lights and sirens. Garza testified he thought the pursuing officer was a robber intent on stealing his truck.
Defense lawyers for Carrizales have tried to prove to the jury that the deputy, who was in uniform, identified himself as a police officer when trying to arrest Garza.
He testified that Garza stopped his pickup twice during the chase. The deputy said Garza pulled over the first time and yelled to the officer that he could not go back to jail before fleeing again. When Carrizales caught up to Garza again and pulled him over, the two struggled as the officer tried to get Garza out of his pickup truck.
During that fight, Carrizales testified, he got Garza out of the truck, then used a used a leg sweep to take Garza to the ground. The officer testified that the injury happened when Garza fell.
The defense also brought evidence to show that Garza had a history of running from police and fighting officers while resisting arrest. Garza was on probation in Hidalgo county when he was pulled over by Carrizales.
The trial, in state District Judge Josh Hill’s court, began Monday. The jury deliberated for an hour Thursday before returning to continue deliberations Friday. If Carrizales is convicted, the case will move to a second phase where jurors will decide punishment.
Brian Rogers covers Houston crime and courts. You can email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @brianjrogers.