Beaumont police officer James Cody Guedry was sentencted Tuesday to 30 days in state jail, probated for 90 days, for official oppression in connection with twice using a Taser against Derrick Newman on the night of Aug. 24, 2007, according to a court employee.
State District Judge John B. Stevens, Jr. imposed the sentence. A Jefferson County jury convicted Guedry of the Class A misdemeanor in December, after which Stevens ordered a presentencing investigation. [Click to read Stevens’ sentencing memorandum, provided by The Beaumont Enterprise.] The sentencing was delayed for a week because Mitch Adams, Guedry’s attorney, was defending a former Jefferson County corrections officer in a civil lawsuit in a Beaumont federal court.
Guedry faced up to one year in county jail and a maximum $4,000 fine. The conviction puts his peace officer’s certification at risk. Beaumont Police Chief Frank Coffin has previously stated that once sentenced, Guedry would have to leave the police department. Adams has said that they will appeal the conviction.
During his December trial, Guedry testified that while he searched Newman for weapons following a late-night traffic stop in which Newman was a passenger, the other man grabbed his wrist and pulled it toward his crotch. Newman, who was not armed, testified that he never grabbed Guedry’s hand or did anything else that warranted his being struck and shocked with a Taser. [For more background on the case and a link to a police video of the incident, click here.]
Former officer David Todd Burke, who was convicted by a Bexar County jury in September of the same offense for using his police baton to strike Newman 13 times in the same incident, received probation from state District Judge Layne Walker of Jefferson County.
Burke is appealing the conviction in the Texas Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Beaumont.
The incident became known to the public in the course of a civil lawsuit Newman filed in state court against five officers, including Guedry and Burke, who were involved in the incident. On Dec. 8, attorneys for the officers removed the civil lawsuit to a Beaumont federal court.
On Jan. 3, Langston Adams, Newman’s civil attorney, filed an amended petition adding the City of Beaumont, Police Chief Frank Coffin and City Manager Kyle Hayes as defendants. The lawsuit is pending.
UPDATE: Following the sentencing, Beaumont Police Chief Frank Coffin told KBMT-TV Channel 12 that Guedry’s status with the department would remain until a decision is made by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education. On Feb. 14, Guedry was placed on indefinite suspension by the department, according to The Beaumont Enterprise. The Enterprise also reported that Guedry’s new attorney, Glen W. Morgan, has filed a motion for a new trial, stating that Mitch Adams provided ineffective counsel at Guedry’s trial. After two delays because Morgan had not received a copy of the trial transcript, Judge Stevens held a hearing on the motion on March 31. The following day, he ruled that Guedry should receive a new trial based on ineffective counsel. On June 12, Coffin reinstated Guedry as a community relations officer, citing Stevens’ ruling for a new trial. Jeffeson County prosecutors later appealed Stevens’ ruling.
On Sept. 5, 2012, the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont upheld Stevens’ ruling granting Guedry a new trial. On Oct. 10, the Jefferson County Criminal District Attorney’s Office filed a petition for discretionary review of the Ninth Court ruling with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
After denying the petition on Jan. 16, 2013, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Feb. 14, on its own motion, returned the case to the Ninth Court of Appeals in Beaumont. On Feb. 26, the Ninth Court issued a mandate in the appeal, returning the case to the Criminal District Court of Jefferson County.
On the final two days of 2014, after Newman signed an affidavit stating he did not want to continue with the criminal complaints, Jefferson County prosecutors dismissed the official oppression charges against Burke and Guedry. As part of his agreement with prosecutors, Burke stipulated that he would not seek employment as a peace officer in Texas for ten years.
Find links to full coverage of the Guedry and Burke trials here.
Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.