|A report by Los Ojos de Cotorra - (eyes of the parrot)|
Waco – Captain “Bubba” Colyer could hardly contain his fury.
His anger radiated out of him like heat waves from a central Texas sidewalk in the August evening sun. He fairly bounced up and down as he spoke of his objections to releasing public information that belongs to we the people, for which he and other officials are custodians.
At one point, as he leaned low over the scribbler and Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon where they were seated on the spit and whittle bench in the building's lobby, he went so far as to pass a hand palm down over his brow, the middle finger extended and the index and ring digits folded in the classic and time-honored one-finger salutation of self-copulation.
Tres dramatique, as they would say at the headquarters of the Surete, but that's in Paris.
This is Six Shooter…(Cue Joni Mitchell-"Free Man In Paris")
The Legendary arrived minutes earlier at the McLennan County Sheriff's Office headquarters on Ninth and Washington seeking information on the kind of case that makes any prairie dweller's blood run cold as ice water. The numbers don't lie. Home invasion and burglaries attract more readership than taxes, and that's what is known as getting downtown – fast.
|The Finger, a time-honored salutation|
On Friday, May, 31, a caretaker at a rural property on the outskirts of Lorena found an unconscious man lying on the ground near a jogging path, his head so badly bloodied that emergency medical technicians and lawmen thought he had been beaten severely. Medical care providers did not discover he had been shot multiple times until they got him to a hospital.
According to published reports, brain surgeons would attempt to save his life later that weekend.
But the reporter emphasized that Capt. Colyer and ex-Ranger Cawthon were tight-lipped as to the victim's identity when they learned he was from the Killeen area. They thought he may have been assaulted there, then dumped near the deep creek bed where Old Bethany Road makes a big bend at the intersection of Hatch Road. It's not all that far off the Interstate.
They would not reveal his name, nor would they say anything about which hospital was treating his injuries. Failed gang land killings have been known to be finalized on hospital wards. Makes sense. That was how things stood on June 1.
|An ex-Ranger, Deputy Matt Cawthon|
This conversation took place on Wednesday, December 11. As it turns out, Cassyne Malveaux survived the surgical procedure. As he recovered, what he gradually told investigators matched his costume, which consisted of black sweat pants, a black t-shirt, and black underwear.
It was no easy go, getting to know Malveaux's story. According to Deputy Cawthon. “That victim wasn't wanting to say much of anything. He did not want to talk.”
The old boy knew he was lucky to be alive, and that fact made him very nervous. Tough way to live, but a worse way to die.
He revealed that he was part of a gang that operates out of the Killeen area, that they met there and all piled in a vehicle for the run to Lorena in order to do a home invasion-burglary, knock-on-the door, push-in, take-over, terroristic, full-scale gang assault on a household near that intersection of Old Bethany and Hatch Road.
They weren't real sure where they would attack, though; the directions weren't totally clear, and it was a very dark night, according to Deputy Cawthon. As he spoke, Capt. Colyer became more and more nervous. When his boss told him to step over to the records request window and obtain the first page offense report, he reddened, bristled, turned on his heel, and nearly stomped across the lobby to the bullet-proof glass window.
You could have heard a pin drop as Matt Cawthon, the retired Ranger with a reputation for not giving up, easily filled in the brush strokes and shaded in the details of the picture.
Suddenly, as he stood in the dark, according to Malveaux an individual shot him in the head, and he was in and out of consciousness as he lay in a pool of his own blood with his head propped up near a log until the caretaker found him the next morning.
He is listed on the official “face sheet” for Case #13-1587 as the victim of “attempted murder.”
Verily, it is so. No doubt. He was never a home invader, after all. He was the victim, all along.
His attacker's name? It's not mentioned on the “first page” or “police blotter information” information as defined by case law.
Has there been an arrest?
“Well, yes, but we haven't gotten anywhere with it, yet,” Colyer fairly shouted, leaning in and putting his face only inches from The Legendary's.
“Is he charged?”
“Yes, but we haven't gotten anywhere with it, as yet,” he repeated, volubly.
“Then it should be a matter of public record.” In the English common law, it was called hue and cry. Today, it's called an 'information.' Indictment must be sought within 90 days, or the prisoner must be released automatically.
In a silky-smooth voice, the Ranger said, “Bubba, could you step over there and get that information for The Legendary, here? Please?”
Colyer released a huge sigh from his considerable chest. He's linebacker tall and built like a tank. It was a loud sigh.
“Give me that,” he said, grabbing the report form, turning, then wheeling back, saying, “Let me have your pen, please...” When he returned, he had written the name, Donnell Briton.
That's when I asked for the name of the magistrate court in which he was charged.
“So I can get a copy of the affidavit of probable cause. It's a court record, open to the public.”
His eyebrows shot up, producing wrinkles in a still youthful forehead that do not even exist, as yet.
“I don't think you can have that.”
He went on to say that I can't have any witness statements, or...But then, I explained, I'm not asking for anything other than police blotter information, or what's known as a “first page” report, from which it's easy to obtain charging instruments and the affidavits of probable cause, for which no public information act request is necessary, once an arrest has been effected, the warrant having been served. All else, including ballistics, polygraph, lab reports, fingerprint analyses – all that is considered work product, and unavailable. I never ask for that stuff. I don't need it.
Still, cops want to argue about it – every time.
Ask the Attorney General. Service while you wait. Google McLennan County Sheriff's Office Records Division. You will find a list of AG's Opinion citations entered by the AG's Open Records Division stretching all the way back to 2008, in which the Records Chief, Tamma Willis, has asked the same questions and received the same answers multiple times. Same answers. Every time.
I can write as gripping a news report as you might like to read with the first page report, the affidavit of probable cause, and whatever observations or remarks I may obtain in the course of interviewing the sources.
The courts routinely release the affidavits, when they have them.
As it turns out, no magistrate court I visited, or any other custodian of record, as well as the District Clerk's office, has any record of any such charge. I spoke with the Jail Magistrate, Judge Virgil Bain, and he said he has no such record.
As Capt. Colyer left, Ranger Cawthon said, “I will get you that name if you run into any difficulty, Jim.” He is sincere. I know that. We do our business. No static at all.
As we parted friends, he bubbled up about a happy television special a producer just finished on he and his posse. It's all about a trip to Honduras to get some bad actors wanted on fugitive warrants.
The Honduran police use a little bit different methods, he said. “They brought them to a police station that looked like something that's been bombed out in Beirut.” As they waited to clear up all the paperwork, he remembered, a local television crew arrived and discovered the room where the prisoners were held had no doorknob.
“They filmed right through the empty hole.” He smiled. The television story isn't quite ready yet. Air time isn't scheduled, but it will be. He smiled again.
“This whole thing really should have been handled by the folks in Killeen. We had very little to do with the deal, but the shooting took place here, so we got it. And we're going to prosecute it, too. All the way.”
As he turned to go, he added, “Jim, you have any static about getting what you need, you just let me know. I will get you the name of the perpetrator on this deal.”
I told him I don't want to get too pushy. Could be Capt. Colyer knows a lot more about this than I do, and I want him to take his time and get them all – every last one of them – especially the one who would come around when folks are trying to sleep in their homes and invade their castle and keep, to take what they have, and terrorize them.
Why fuss? Ends by getting on your nerves. Every time.
But not like this - Not last night, but the night before, sixteen robbers came knockin' at my door; back to back, they faced each other; pulled out their swords and shot each other...Go down by the stoop. Any major dude or dudette will tell you.