Gentlemen of the gendarmerie Dallas When a massive manhunt for two Mexican-Americans charged with killing three sheriff’s deputies here stretched into several days, some observers felt certain the two men would never see the inside of a jail. Possibly the only reason they ever did and were not shot “resisting arrest” was that irate deputies on the manhunt first stormed the wrong apartment in a kamikaze-style arresting party and shot up a Mexican-American couple. Some of the story pieced together later by a Dallas Times-Herald reporter came from some of the couple’s eight children, who were awakened by blasts that put 34 shotgun pellet and bullet holes in the walls of the four-room apartment where the family lived. Another eighteen holes were counted in the walls of the apartment above, the Times Herald reported. The bullet-hole count apparently did not include those in Thomas Rodriguez’ chest and his wife’s shattered leg. Both were hospitalized in serious condition, but are apparently recovering well. The deputies and other law enforcement officers that accompanied them on the manhunt were understandably angry. The two men sought were charged with murder in the execution-style slayings of three deputies; a fourth was wounded, and a fifth deputy escaped. The slayings came after the five Dallas and Ellis County deputies were taken hostage in a West Dallas house as they sought burglary suspects there. The law officers said they gave ample warning before kicking in the door of the Rodriguez apartment, shouting “this is the police, let us in.” They said Rodriguez fired twice on them with a pistol before they returned fire. Rodriguez, who has since been charged by Dallas County Sheriff Clarence Jones with assault with intent to murder a police offer, is being counseled by the Dallas Legal Services Project, headed by Ed Polk. \(Polk, under long-standing Office of Economic Opportunity guidelines, says he will only counsel Rodriguez in civil matters or until actual criminal indictments are returned. 0E0 won’t allow Legal Services he has to converse with his client through an interpreter; Mrs. Rodriguez, a native of Mexico, reportedly does not speak English. After newspapers published reports of the language barrier, Sheriff Jones said that the police warnings were given in both Spanish and English. He also said his deputies have conversed in English with Rodriguez, who was handcuffed to his hospital bed. One of the Lee Park Five Keith Heinsohn, 21 lived in the apartment above the Rodriguez apartment. He said he was sitting on his floor with a friend the night of the shoot-out, with no record player or other noise disturbing the stillness. Heinsohn said he heard no warning; the shots were the first thing that broke the calm. The apartment landlady, asleep sixty feet away, said she heard no warning prior to the shots, which she said woke her up. Police said the warning was loud enough that officers in the street heard it. Rene Guzman and Leonardo Lopez, the pair charged with killing the deputies, were captured about half an hour later in another, larger apartment building on the same property. They were apprehended apparently without a struggle, as two women in the apartment with them were talked outside by police and the two men were discovered hiding inside. In talking to reporters later as he signed a confession admitting his role in the slayings, Lopez said he had trouble speaking because his jaw had been broken en route to the county jail. Sheriff Jones said he did not know who had brought the men to jail, but said Lopez had struggled with officers outside the apartment. AFTER THE Times-Herald story about the bullet count, the comments from the children, the Heinsohn account about his failure to hear a warning, and clamor by Dallas’ Mexican-American community about the assault on the Rodriguez apartment, Sheriff Jones revealed that Rodriguez was allegedly a heroin pusher who had supplied Guzman and Lopez two grams of heroin in exchange for two of the slain officers’ guns and $50. His main source of information, he said, was Lopez’ signed confession. Lawmen have yet to find the pistols, the sheriff said. If they found any heroin in Rodriguez’ apartment, the sheriff has not disclosed that fact. Jones was quoted in The Dallas Morning News as saying he had withheld public announcement on Rodriguez’ alleged heroin sale to Guzman and Lopez because his office was still gathering information. “But law enforcement was taking a pretty good beating in this case,” he said. “And we felt it was time to say something.” The day after that statement by Jones, The Dallas News heard from Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade that it would be impossible to hang a pushing rap on Rodriguez unless undercover agents had bought heroin from him or found heroin in his apartment. Lopez, as a confessed killer, would not be a credible witness, Wade said. And an informant who Jones said had told him of the purchase would not be allowed as an admissible witness in court. “You have to have someone make the purchase who is willing to say the goods he bought was heroin,” Wade told the News. “That’s why almost all of our convictions in narcotics sales come in cases where the drugs were purchased by undercover agents.” A. P. Calderon, head of the Dallas Latin American Action group, was portrayed by the News as aghast at the raid on the Rodriguez apartment. “With all the refinements we have today in police tactics, it really puts a question in our minds,” he said. “Why weren’t they used? Why the storm-troopers methods? Why weren’t they brought out with tear gas?” Calderon questioned the wisdom of allowing a deputy to remain on the case, and participate in the arrest party, who had been quoted in a UPI story as saying he believed “the whole damned neighborhood” around the house where the deputies were captured knew of the planned executions. The News said Calderon felt the deputy was out to revenge the deaths of his friends and should have been removed from the case. As for Rodriguez’ alleged shots at the arrest party, Calderon told the News: “This man’s door was kicked in. He didn’t know if they were the killers, police or . men disguised as police. They were plainclothesmen. I would have shot at the men too.” There is some talk that Rodriguez may file a damage suit against the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Jones, later in the day after the early-morning capture, commended the lawmen involved in the arrest for their restraint. “I think under the .circumstances, all personnel involved should be commended,” Jones was quoted in the News. “We were in a tough situation where anything could have happened. It was very fortunate that no one was killed.” You cannot go on being bystanders on so many major problems. It is already clear that the federal courts will not hesitate to step in, if necessary, and you will be supplanted. U.S. Circuit Judge Floyd Gibson, to a meeting of more than 1,000 state legislators at the annual National Legislative Conference. March 12, 1971 7 .4;,..” e . r 4 1. ’45
You May Also Like
The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.