A struggle between Schertz police officers and a teen captured on video has his family and attorneys demanding justice.
Dina Rayford, mother of 18-year-old Zekee Rayford, said she hasn’t watched the entire video showing officers using a stun gun on her son with one officer repeatedly using her knee to strike Zekee as police tussle with him on the ground outside his home on Nov. 2.
“Justice for us and as a family is to make sure they’re held accountable,” Dina said. “To make sure they are not able to do this to another child I want to see their badges taken. They don’t need them.”
Schertz Police Department issued a press statement after the incident, saying officers saw a car run a traffic light about 11:40 p.m. Nov. 2 on Schertz Parkway and tried to stop it. Officers turned on their lights and sirens and the driver fled, police said.
The car stopped in a driveway in the 1000 block of Keanna Place in the Wilsons Preserve neighborhood, police said.
“After pulling into the driveway of a residence, he exited the vehicle and attempted to flee from officers on foot, trying to get into the residence,” the statement read. “Officers attempted to apprehend [Zekee] Rayford, and a struggle ensued, which resulted in him being Tased by one of the officers.”
Schertz police charged Zekee with evading arrest or detention with a motor vehicle; evading arrest or detention; resisting arrest and detention; and possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, according to online records for the Guadalupe County Jail. Zekee posted bonds totaling $14,500 the next day and was released.
In a follow-up released the day after its first statement, the department reassured community members it intends to serve them with understanding and integrity.
Officers are expected to maintain “the highest ethical and moral standards” when dealing with the public, the second statement read.
“At this time, we are actively investigating the incident involving Zekee Rayford and cannot comment further on the investigation,” it read. “At the conclusion of the investigation, if any policy infractions are discovered, staff will be held accountable and appropriate actions will be taken.”
Attorneys for the family shared home video surveillance footage recorded the night of the arrest during a during a virtual press conference on Monday afternoon.
In the video, Zekee can be seen exiting his car in his driveway while officers stand at the end of the driveway with weapons drawn and aimed at the teen.
Zekee has his hands in the air and they appear to be empty. Zekee runs around the car and rushes to the home’s front door.
Another camera captures what happens at the door.
Zekee bangs on the door yelling for his father.
Three officers — two women and a man — quickly rush into camera angle, repeatedly use a stun gun on Zekee and wrestle him to the ground. While one female officer and a man officer are struggling near Zekee’s upper body, a second female officer can be seen repeatedly striking him with her knee.
Eventually, someone opens the front door and things begin to deescalate as officers can be seen speaking to someone off camera, later revealed to be Zekee’s father, Kevin Rayford. Before the video ends, the male officer threatens someone inside the home to relax or “get it next.”
The video has since gone viral, said Tess House, a civil attorney working with the family.
“That video was not given to you,” she said. “That information was not provided to you by the Schertz Police Department. But for the video surveillance camera that was installed at the Rayford home, we never would’ve known what happened on that dreadful night.”
House questioned the on-scene officers’ actions and how a red-light infraction escalated to the level of violence witnessed on the video.
Another family attorney, Dallas-based civil rights lawyer Daryl Washington took aim at the police department’s press statement and the department for releasing no body camera footage from the arrest. The police video and the family’s video should help the department come to a swift conclusion, Washington said.
“It doesn’t get any clearer than that to say what those officers did to Zekee was wrong,” he said. “We are demanding justice.”
Zekee said he feared for his life the night of the arrest. He banged on the door hoping to get his dad to open. When Kevin opened the door, he, too, was threatened, Zekee said.
Kevin Rayford, a disabled veteran, said he served in a war and was charged with dealing with people who wanted him and other Americans dead.
“I never treated them the way my son was treated that night,” Kevin said. “To be threatened in my own home when I’m trying to check on my son is totally uncalled for. I just want to see justice for my child, for my family.”