Police officers seen on video footage repeatedly striking a teen with a knee, using a stun gun on him and threatening to stun his father at their home did not violate the department’s use of force or other policies, Schertz police officials said Thursday.
An internal investigation into the case of Zekee Rayford, then 18, did find and sustain violations of the rules of conduct ensuring officers show a duty to be kind, courteous, and patient, but did not violate other policies, a news statement released Thursday afternoon read.
“Our focus now should be on improving our training, policies, and procedures to better meet the needs of everyone in our community,” City Manager Mark Browne said. “I recognize it is not enough to simply say that we will do better, and it is my expectation that we take this opportunity to acknowledge the different perspectives that have been brought forward and explore how those views can improve future interactions with the public.
“It is also important that we continue the good policing that we provide every day to keep our community safe and that starts by preserving the trust and confidence our residents have in us.”
Several weeks ago, Schertz Police Department issued a statement saying officers saw a car run a traffic signal 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. Rayford got out of the car and ran to his front door, where officers quickly rushed in and subdued him using a stun gun and physical force, as seen in video footage.
Police charged Rayford 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.
Thursday’s statement said the police department had concluded its internal investigation into the Nov. 2 incident and that it found officers did not violate rules on conduct and behavior, their responsibility to respect the rights of others, or use of intimidation or treatment of people in custody, the statement read.
The investigation identified training opportunities to reinforce policies and procedures and enhance the department’s improvement and use of best practices, the statement read.
Rayford’s civil rights attorney Artessia House said no one from the city of Schertz or Schertz Police Department contacted her or her client following the findings.
The information contained in the department’s news release and what she saw on the video lead her to believe the department is okay with the way its officers treated her client, House said.
“Looking at the conduct that was executed by law enforcement on the night they had an interaction with Zekee Rayford, it appeared as if the police department was complicit with the type of behavior displayed by the officers that night,” she said. “Because the conduct was so shocking, I would find it hard to believe this type of police brutality had not occurred prior to that night.”
She called the police behavior egregious, shocking to the conscience and a disregard for human life. House said it appears to her that such behavior is “cosigned” by the Schertz Police Department.
Her firm continues to investigate the interaction and consider options, House said. No lawsuits have been filed in the case, she said.
The city of Schertz contracted an independent consultant to review existing policies and training, according to the news release. The consultant agreed with the internal investigation results, police said.
“We hired the consultant as a second set of eyes; to make sure that the written directives in our policies match the business practice,” Browne said. “It gave us an opportunity to have an unbiased outside perspective review of what happened and to ensure our policies are being followed as written.”
The consultant recommended department policies and training. The police department will evaluate and review the recommendations, the statement read.
Officials did not identify that outside consultant. Failure to do so alarmed House.
“I am concerned about the fact that they did not release the name nor the entity that conducted the independent consultation to execute and review the department’s policies and procedures,” she said. “I am not shocked, however, that there was a finding that there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to updating their policies and procedures to ensure that it comports to what the law requires.”