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Phil Sorrells (right) may have ordered the dismissal of criminal charges against a former jailer who nearly beat an inmate to death two years ago — all as a favor to his good friend and fellow Trump bootlicker, Sheriff Bill Waybourn. Courtesy YouTube

The levels of savagery that led to Corey Rodrigues’ mid-2020 hospitalization are beyond dispute. Video footage shows Tarrant County jailer Reginald Roy Lowe entering Rodrigues’ cell before slamming the mentally handicapped inmate onto a bunk and punching him several times. Jailers Lewis Velasquez and Dakota Coston looked on as Lowe fractured several of Rodrigues’ ribs and broke his cheekbone.

Rodrigues’ sister told the Star-Telegram that no one from the sheriff’s department contacted her or her family about the assault which caused her brother’s hospitalization and near death. County officials fired the three detention officers soon after, and, in late January the following year, a grand jury indicted Lowe on one count of aggravated assault (a felony) and official oppression (class A misdemeanor). As the case sat in Judge Wayne Salvant’s Criminal District Court No. 2, Rodrigues prepared to file a civil rights lawsuit against the county. In September, District Judge Mark Pittman placed the lawsuit on hold until the criminal case was resolved — one of several peculiar steps by the courts and prosecutors which appear coordinated to absolve the sheriff’s department of financial liability.

Prosecutor Jonathan Simpson recently recommended that Salvant dismiss the pending criminal charges against Lowe through a motion known as DM 14 (prosecutorial discretion). In other words, the district attorney’s office refused to cite why it was dropping charges. Prosecutors can recommend dismissing a case for a range of reasons, and most of them are common sensical. Based on state guidelines, assistant district attorneys can cease prosecuting a case because the defendant is deceased, the victim requests dismissal, or the case has been refiled under a new cause number. DA Phill Sorrells, who would have likely approved if not ordered the call to drop charges, did not say why he’s letting Lowe walk free other than trotting out the old chestnut, “Trust us on this one!”

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For anyone following the white supremacist/Christian Nationalist cabal that is Tarrant County’s top leadership (Sorrells, County Judge Tim O’Hare, and Sheriff Bill Waybourn), the dropped charges that the DA’s office likely hoped would go unnoticed protect Waybourn’s cult of death that has seen 54 population members die over the past five years in the shithole downtown jail that houses largely legally innocent, impoverished defendants who can’t afford bail. Cue: knee-jerk Republican comments of “Oh, there are murderers in there.” Serious offenders are held in prisons, not jails, and if any violent perpetrators are under Waybourn’s watch, they are awaiting trial or transportation to a long-term holding facility.

Were Sorrells not a lazy Trump-loving idiot, we would probably have little reason to suspect nefarious reasons for the abruptly dropped charges.

But this is Tyrant County.

In 2022, then-candidate Sorrells was endorsed by the disgraced former president currently facing more than 70 state and federal felony charges. The public backing came conspicuously soon after Sorrells’ sugar stepdaddy donated a cool $100,000 to the civilly convicted rapist. When it comes to being right-wing nuts, it’s all in the family for the Sorrellses.

Lawsuits keep coming, and we’ll have Waybourn to thank if the litigation bankrupts the county. A recent wrongful death suit filed by the children of Georgia Kay Baldwin, the 52-year-old mother claimed by dehydration in detention at Tarrant County Jail, claims she died because of the jail’s “policies, practices, and customs.”

Since Tarrant County’s Trumpy cabal rarely expresses concern for anything other than stupid culture-war bullshit, attorneys are researching wrongful deaths on Waybourn’s watch and fine-tuning arguments.

Disgraced former DA Sharen Wilson abused her office when she sought the unprecedented indictment of two Southlake school board members as a favor to her friend O’Hare, who was stirring up CRT conspiracy theories to build his political base of walking dildos who misread the Bible on purpose and hate brown people. County prosecutors only recently dropped the bogus charges, but Sorrells also appears more than willing to abuse his office to pull favors for friends.

Tarrant County residents have few if any reasons to trust the local criminal justice system with a Trump-loving sycophant at the top who is obsessed with prosecuting near nonexistent voter fraud while helping a sheriff who should and may one day himself be locked up for the murderous culture he condones at the Tarrant County Jail.

 

This story is part of City in Crisis, an ongoing series of reports on unethical behavior and worse by local public leaders, featuring original reporting.

 

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

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