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Texas DA dismisses felony charge against former CO

The case was dismissed at the request of the inmate’s family and the former CO agreed to not seek work as a peace officer, corrections officer or armed security guard

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In all criminal cases, the District Attorney’s Office represents the State of Texas and must make decisions about the resolution of cases with justice and the interests of the community in mind.

Hays County Texas / Facebook

By Corrections1 Staff

SAN MARCOS, Texas — The Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s Office dismissed the indictment charging former Hays County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer Isaiah Garcia with the third-degree felony offense of deadly conduct.

The dismissal of charges, announced in a press release, stems from a 2022 incident.

On December 12, 2022, CO Garcia shot and killed 36-year-old Joshua Wright while working as a corrections officer for Hays County. Wright was in the Hays County jail and had been transported to a hospital the previous evening after complaining of a medical problem.

Garcia was assigned to guard Wright at the hospital and was preparing to transport Wright back to jail when the shooting occurred. As Wright exited a restroom, Garcia attempted to replace the handcuffs that were removed from Wright. Wright forcefully shoved Garcia and attempted to escape by running through the emergency room toward the public exit. Garcia shot and killed Wright during that escape attempt.

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The investigation into the shooting was reviewed by a Hays County Grand Jury in April 2023. The grand jury considered the possible charges of murder and manslaughter in connection with the shooting of Wright. Under Texas law, a corrections officer or peace officer may be justified in using force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is immediately necessary to prevent the escape of a person in custody. After hearing the evidence and the relevant law, the grand jury declined to return an indictment for either of those charges.

The grand jury did, however, return an indictment charging Garcia with the third-degree felony offense of deadly conduct. The indictment alleges that Garcia discharged a firearm at or in the direction of one or more individuals by shooting at Joshua Wright in a medical facility when patients and staff were present. While the indictment did not charge Garcia with an offense directly related to the death of Wright, it did accuse him of deadly conduct for the circumstances in which he fired his weapon in a crowded emergency room.

“During the investigation and prosecution of the case, the District Attorney’s Office has been communicating with the family of Joshua Wright. This includes allowing members of the Wright family to see the body-worn camera footage of the shooting,” said Higgins. “We are aware that the Wright family, as well as many in the community, was deeply disappointed in the grand jury’s decision not to indict Garcia for murder or manslaughter.”

In all criminal cases, the District Attorney’s Office represents the State of Texas and must make decisions about the resolution of cases with justice and the interests of the community in mind. The wishes of a victim or the family of a victim are always considered, but other factors that must be considered include public safety and fundamental fairness, Higgins said.

Weighing those factors, the State moved to dismiss the case against Isaiah Garcia today and the court dismissed the case. Prior to the dismissal, Garcia agreed to a permanent surrender of his corrections officer license and further agreed not to seek any license or certification in the future to work as a peace officer, corrections officer or armed security guard.

“This case was dismissed at the request of the Wright family. They communicated their wishes to have the case dismissed after consulting with their legal representatives. After subsequently viewing the body cam footage of the shooting, the family persisted in requesting the dismissal. The reasons offered by the family for their request were carefully considered and, ultimately, found to be persuasive,” said Higgins. “We have chosen to respect the family’s privacy and will offer no additional discussion of those reasons. We encourage others to also respect their privacy.”