SAN ANTONIO – After six hours of deliberation, a jury found former Bexar County Jail guard Avery Lawrence of official oppression and civil rights violations charges.
The attorney for Lawrence told the jury during closing arguments Monday morning that his client acted in self-defense when he struck inmate John Cory Garcia.
Lawrence had just begun his shift, according to his testimony and was trying to calm down the 64 rowdy inmates in unit 8-D. He said that Garcia shoved him and he responded with a blow to Garcia’s face.
“When this is going on we have inmates screaming and yelling and taking shirts off,” defense attorney Robert Porter told the jury. “He’s the only one there – no weapons.”
Prosecutors argued that self-defense did not apply. And that Lawrence was not justified in using deadly force.
“Lawrence is not entitled to use deadly force against Garcia,” prosecutor Edward Flores argued. “Remember that deadly force is a type of force that results in death of serious bodily injury.”
In addition to the blow to Garcia’s face witnesses – other inmates – testified that Lawrence struck Garcia in the back with his knee resulting in a broken rib and a punctured lung.
“Since he is a peace officer he, during an arrest, he has a right to use force at that point in time,” Porter countered.
Lawrence faces up to one year behind bars and a $4,000 fine.