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SFA investigation of so-called ‘swatting’ incident remains with Nacogdoches County district attorney

Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - One month ago this Wednesday, armed Stephen F. Austin State University police officers entered the room of a sleeping Christin Evans based on a report that she was brandishing scissors in a threatening manner. UPD pointed the blame toward a group of racially diverse students.

The Nacogdoches County District Attorney’s office has UPD’s findings in hand to determine if the matter should go before a grand jury. Its job would be deciding if criminal indictments are in order, explained Assistant District Attorney Andrew Jones.

“Just like with any investigation, you follow that path of investigation to determine whether or not it is in fact those bad actors who have acted, or do we have other parties that have also broken the law?" Jones said. "And so, we look at everything.”

Everything includes police bodycam footage. At first, SFA wanted a public release, but couldn’t because of the Evans family’s disapproval. Now, a future video release could be influenced by prosecutors' shielding preferences.

“In our realm, the body cam footage is evidence. Our policy is if a case is under investigation, we’re not going to release evidence,” Jones said. “One, we don’t want to poison the well. We don’t want to poison the public that could potentially be a jury pool in the future.”

Jones knows of no arrests. More investigation could be requested. Meanwhile, Evans' parents have claimed racial injustice, something SFA strongly denies.

Some students suspected by SFA of making an alleged false report have filed a civil federal lawsuit claiming their constitutional due process rights were denied.

Prosecutors do not want courtroom battles outside their jurisdiction to distract from their investigation.

“We try not to let any outside influence have undue influence on what we’re trying to do,” Jones said. “We want to be able to look at the case objectively to determine what, if any, evidence exists, what charges are most appropriate, and what individuals need to be filed on.”

And Jones said even though it’s a month out from the incident, his office won’t be rushed into a hasty decision.

“We want to be thorough about it because you don’t want to short-shrift either the victim or a potential defendant of a thorough analysis, and so we want to be careful about establishing a hard and fast timeline," Jones said.

The next grand jury is set to meet on Oct. 23.

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