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2 Texas corrections officers fired, video released following inmate’s death

The inmate died following an altercation with Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers; two COs involved in the incident have been fired

By Noah Alcala Bach
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

FORT WORTH, Texas — Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare said the conduct of jail personnel involved in the death of an inmate “invokes strong emotions.”

O’Hare issued a statement within an hour of the Sheriff’s Office releasing a video that showed the moments before the death of Anthony Johnson Jr . After an altercation with guards, Johnson is handcuffed before a guard kneels on his back for a minute and a half. Seven seconds after the guard knelt on him, Johnson says he can’t breathe. He can be heard gasping.

“Whenever an inmate dies in custody, it highlights the enormous responsibility of detention personnel to safeguard the well-being and security of every individual under their care,” he said. “The conduct of jail personnel with respect to the death of Mr. Johnson invokes strong emotions.”

O’Hare said he would not make any more comments because of the possibility that charges might be filed.

“The public, and especially members of the media, should allow the justice system to work, and not attempt to influence the jury pool or shape public opinion before all facts of the case are known and have been weighed by a jury,” he said. “Tarrant County residents can trust that the legal process will be carried out in a fair manner. Law and order will be maintained. I pray for the comfort of those who are grieving, peace in our community, and a just outcome.”

Rafael Moreno, the corrections officer who knelt on Johnson’s back, has been fired along with Lt. Joel Garcia, a supervisor with 24 years with the department. Moreno had nine years experience with the department.

A cause of death has not been determined.

Commissioner Alisa Simmons asked for the video’s release hours before the 4 p.m. press conference.

Last week Commissioner Manny Ramirez, a former Fort Worth police officer, called for increased transparency from the Sheriff’s Office.

Waybourn said Johnson’s family viewed the video at the District Attorney’s Office before before it was shown to the press.

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