Tarrant County

Jailers post bond after being indicted on murder charges related to inmate's death

Two detention officers with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office are facing murder charges related to the death of Anthony Johnson Jr.


Two Tarrant County jailers indicted last week on murder charges for their roles in the death of inmate Anthony Johnson Jr. are free after posting bond.

The Tarrant County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Friday morning that detention officers Rafael Moreno, 37, and Lt. Joel Garcia, 48, were each indicted on a murder charge by a grand jury on Tuesday.

Garcia surrendered at the Parker County Sheriff's Office on Friday, and Moreno surrendered at the Tarrant County Sheriff's Office on Saturday. Both detention officers posted bond and have been released.

Daryl Washington, an attorney representing Johnson's family, said they planned to hold a press conference at noon Tuesday.

Johnson, whose death was ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner, died during a struggle in the Tarrant County Jail in April. The sheriff's office initially said Johnson died after a medical emergency while refusing to leave his jail cell during a security sweep.

In May, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn fired Moreno and Garcia following an internal investigation into Johnson's death. Waybourn said during a news conference that month that Moreno was fired for using a technique not approved by the sheriff's department. Garcia, Waybourn said, was fired for allowing the technique to be used and for failing to respond to the situation's urgency.

Video released by Waybourn showed a jailer kneeling on Johnson while he said he couldn't breathe.

Waybourn said he was forced to reinstate the jailers under civil service rules three days after their termination.

The Texas Rangers, a part of the Texas Department of Public Safety, are independently investigating Johnson's death.

“As promised, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Ranger Division, conducted a thorough, impartial, and meticulous investigation of the death of Anthony Johnson. We provided the findings of that investigation to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, which resulted in the murder indictments. We know that this has been a painful, and at times, a prolonged process for the family of Anthony Johnson, but now this case moves to the next step in the judicial process," said Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Jeremy Sherrod.

The sheriff's office said the case will go to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

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