Meridian – In anticipation of a civil lawsuit for wrongful death – or worse – Bosque County Sheriff Anthony L. Mallott filed a petition in 220th State District Court seeking to depose the mother of a woman who died while in custody on May 4.
Tina Pierce and other family members of her daughter, April Troyn, the Sheriff alleges, “have made claims on social media networks that a lawsuit would be filed by the family and made various unsubstantiated allegations of wrong doing on the part of sheriff's Office employees.”
The petition seeks only to take the testimony of Ms. Pierce, “solely to investigate a potential claim.”
Jailers found Ms. Troyn “unresponsive,” a blanket wrapped around her neck, hanging from the bars of her cell on May 4, according to an Emergency Medical Technician's report filed on that day. Justice of the Peace Ray Ballman pronounced her dead a short time later, and ordered an autopsy by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner.
Booking documents show that she was booked into the jail on May 2 at 11:27 hours for the felony offense of Reckless Endangerment and/or Abandonment. Curiously, the petition filed on Wednesday, July 31, alleges she was jailed on May 3. Female prisoners are routinely boarded at the Hill County Jail if held more than 24 hours because the Texas Commission on Jail Standards has ruled the Bosque County Jail substandard due to the inability to segregate female prisoners by sight and sound. There are concerns with space requirements, as well.
The autopsy report has been filed, but is held confidential because it is material to a Texas Rangers investigation, according to Judge Ballman. Nevertheless, District Attorney B.J. Shepherd released details of the autopsy report to various media outlets in Waco, which held that the death is a result of strangulation due to hanging.
“No damages or injunctive relief is being sought...” the Sheriff's prayer for relief states. A Tyler attorney named Robert S. Davis of Flowers and Davis filed the instrument, requesting a hearing under a rule of civil procedure that allows deposition in anticipation of litigation to determine the facts.
According to the caption of the lawsuit, the Sheriff is acting “in his individual capacity” under Rule 202 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure to obtain a verified petition.
“Although the Petitioner asserts that the Respondent has no valid claims...family members of April Lee Troyn have made claims on social media networks that a lawsuit would be filed by the family...,” the Petition states.
In seeking the testimony, the Sheriff alleges that Ms. Pierce can tell court officials and law men a lot about her mental health, drug use, and family difficulties.
“Tina Pierce's testimony will be essential to the investigation of this potential claim. The likely benefit of allowing Petitioner to take this deposition to investigate this potential claim outweighs any burden or expense of the procedure...” (click here for an earlier report)
The Sheriff asked the judge to schedule a hearing into the matter as soon as possible to look into the matter of ordering the deposition to be taken from Ms. Pierce.