SAN AUGUSTINE, TX (KTRE) - A former San Augustine Police officer will be charged with two counts of official oppression and one count of assault in connection to allegations that he "put his hands on" a man being processed into the county jail on July 28.
San Augustine County District Attorney Kevin Sutton made the announcement at a press conference held early Wednesday evening. Christopher Wheeler will be charged with two Class A misdemeanor official oppression charges and a Class B misdemeanor assault charge. He was expected to turn himself into authorities sometime Wednesday night.
Dutton said they made the decision to proceed with the investigation as quickly as possible in light of recent events like the August 9, 2014 incident in Ferguson, Missouri, where Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown, who was unarmed at the time, because Wheeler is white, and Wallace Clifton, the alleged victim is black.
If Wheeler is convicted, he will serve a maximum of two years in the county jail, Dutton said.
Dutton said his office made the decision to investigation allegations of abuse on Monday. Texas Ranger Steve Rayburn and FBI agents from Beaumont assisted with the investigation. As a result of the investigation, they obtained three arrest warrants for Wheeler.
Dutton said that their investigation indicated that the incident occurred at the San Augustine County Jail on July 28, and Clifton was being booked in on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication. While Dutton would not elaborate on what exactly happened, it was obvious that Wheeler "put his hands on" Clifton, and that the act was not done in self defense.
Clifton has a history with the San Augustine Police Department, Dutton added.
Dutton said he couldn't speak for Wheeler, but he said he believes that Wheeler probably hit some kind of limit in regard to how much he could take from Clifton, and went too far.
The district attorney said the FBI agents that assisted with the investigation said that alleged incident didn't meet the threshold that would have prompted federal charges.
Dutton said although he knows Wheeler is no longer with the San Augustine Police Department, he is unsure whether Wheeler resigned or was fired.