Bexar County Sheriff's Office jail guard faces official oppression charges

Defense attorney claims officer acted in self-defense

SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County jail detention officer is on trial, facing three counts of official oppression for allegedly assaulting an inmate at the jail annex on July 13, 2014.

Deputy Avery Lawrence had just reported for duty, according to prosecutors, when John Garcia, an inmate, became verbally abusive.

Prosecutor Edward Flores said words turned to blows and Lawrence punched Garcia in the face. Flores said they wrestled to the ground and Garcia suffered a head laceration, broken rib and punctured lung.

“His (Garcia’s) injuries were so serious that if his injuries were not medically attended to, he could have died,” Flores said.

Lawrence’s attorney, Marilyn Bradley, had a different account of the events that afternoon.

“There was an assault that day, absolutely,” Bradley said. “But it was the inmate on the officer.”

Bradley said this was a case of assault on a public servant, not official oppression.

“He’s just been assaulted by an inmate,” she said about Lawrence. “He’s got to defend himself.”

If he is found guilty, Lawrence faces a maximum sentence of a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday in Judge Melisa Skinner’s 290th District Court.

About the Author

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

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