Victim assaulted by co-worker says Bexar DA ignored his requests to prosecute attacker

Attacker avoided prosecution, paid Ernest Silvas III $1,000 restitution after admitting to 2020 assault at Dominguez State Jail

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio man assaulted by a co-worker at the Dominguez State Jail in 2020 said the Bexar County District Attorney’s decision to dismiss the charge against his attacker went against his wishes as a victim.

Ernest Silvas III, 53, suffered injuries to his head, midsection and foot during the July 2020 incident inside a maintenance building on the grounds of the state correctional facility in far west Bexar County.

A verbal argument between Silvas and fellow maintenance employee Roger Alvarado escalated to the point Alvarado repeatedly struck Silvas in his head, causing him to fall back and hit his head on a metal bench, a probable cause affidavit in the case states.

Silvas said Alvarado repeatedly kneed his stomach and hip and stomped on his foot while sitting on him, as inmates cheered Alvarado on.

The Dominguez State Jail in far west Bexar County. (KSAT)

Alvarado, according to Silvas, was terminated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice within hours of the incident.

An agent with Office of Inspector General handled the criminal investigation of Alvarado, records show. Alvarado later admitted to law enforcement that he struck Silvas, according to charging paperwork.

Silvas, who has been forced to have dental surgery and several procedures done on his neck after being attacked, said his physical injuries have been compounded by depression and anxiety stemming from the incident.

Silvas’ other symptoms following the attack, according to medical records reviewed by KSAT, included nausea, short-term memory issues and medical episodes that would affect his vision.

Defendant Roger Alvarado admitted to the July 2020 assault of a co-worker at the Dominguez State Jail. (KSAT)

“I opened up to them. I don’t go places. I go to doctors and I’m home. I go to H-E-B, Walmart and I’m home, because I’m so afraid. And the depression has really got me,” said Silvas, referring to recent conversations he has had with family members.

A warrant for Alvarado’s arrest was issued last May and he was taken into custody in connection to the attack in July, court records show.

Silvas said he was disturbed to learn that prosecutors dismissed the misdemeanor assault charge against Alvarado late last month after the defendant paid “full restitution” in the case — a $1,000 cashier’s check made out to Silvas, who paid more than twice that out-of-pocket for the dental procedure alone.

“My thing is, I didn’t want the charges dismissed or dropped,” said Silvas, who added that his attempts to speak with District Attorney Joe Gonzales were denied.

“I want him to know that this was not fair,” said Silvas, who attempted to return to work after being attacked before going on leave without pay. He said TDCJ officials had no choice but to terminate him in October after he had exhausted his leave.

DA officials declined to make Gonzales or Misdemeanor Division Chief Jamissa Jarmon available for interviews for this story.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the DA’s office told the Defenders:

Every case in our office receives a thorough evaluation of the facts and the applicable law. Further, in determining the appropriate resolution in a criminal matter, we consider the wishes of the victim regarding punishment as well as any mitigating information including the defendant’s medical status. In this case, after multiple conversations with Mr. Silvas and plea negotiations with the defense, the State offered a plea deal for restitution which was accepted by the defendant. While we sympathize with the victim’s complaint, we cannot reverse the agreement.

Silvas said that he had previously been given conflicting information on whether Alvarado was battling a serious illness, but that he ultimately wanted prosecutors move forward with their case against his attacker.

Alvarado’s criminal defense attorney did not respond to a phone call seeking comment for this story.

Silvas said he is hoping to recover enough to return to employment with TDCJ and work 18 more months to qualify for a state pension.

A TDCJ spokesman declined to release additional details about the assault or Alvarado’s employment and instead requested that the KSAT 12 Defenders file a records request for that information.

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About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.