Schertz police officers investigated for misuse of force removed from patrol duty

Officers caught on camera tackling, hitting and using a Taser on 18-year-old Zekee Rayford

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The Schertz police officers at the center of an internal investigation after their use of force on an 18-year-old man are no longer assigned to patrol duty, officials told KSAT on Thursday.

Police officers Megan Fennesy, Danielle Apgar and Frank Chavarria were captured on Zekee Rayford’s home security system, tackling and hitting him as he screamed for his father.

Although Schertz police officials previously confirmed that an internal investigation was underway to see if procedures were followed, they did not confirm that the officers were reassigned until Thursday. It’s unclear when the officers were removed from patrol duty, though it is standard for the officers to be reassigned pending the internal investigation.

Police said they attempted to stop Rayford after he drove through a red light off Schertz Parkway Nov. 2. They say he drove to the Wilson Preserve neighborhood. Officers said Rayford attempted to flee on foot after he parked the vehicle in a driveway.

The home security footage first shows Rayford standing in his driveway with his hands in the air as police point their service guns at him. Then he runs to the home’s front door, where a second camera shows police tackling him at the doorstep.

In the video, police can be heard telling Rayford that he was under arrest and to stop resisting. One police officer is seen using a stun gun in the footage, while another officer can be seen kneeing the teen repeatedly.

The front door opens as police, still struggling with the suspect, tell Rayford’s family that he was being arrested for running from them. The family is heard in the footage confronting the officers over their use of force.

One of the officers replies to a family member, “You better relax, or you’re going to get it next. I promise you, you will.”

Rayford was charged with felony evading in a motor vehicle, resisting arrest and detention, and possession of marijuana.

Police say the teen fled from them in his car and then resisted arrest, but the family said, "“It was unjust and uncalled for and threatening and a misuse of force. It just makes us feel unsafe in the community we live in.”

Rayford’s family has called for justice and even gathered at a Schertz city council meeting on Tuesday to get answers.

Rayford’s sister, Marie Bonds, said Rayford is not physically or mentally well after the incident.

“He deserves justice, and we’re going to fight until he gets it,” she said. “At any point, we should never be scared of the people that are supposed to protect and serve us.”

Star Macias, one of Rayford’s supporters during the gathering, said she could only stomach the graphic video for so long.

“I can only watch up to a certain point, at the point where there was fear in his eyes that was clearly recognizable,” Macias said.

Ralph Guttierez, the mayor of Schertz, addressed Rayford’s group of supporters during the council meeting, saying he understood their pain but that communities depend on laws to be followed.

“It is regrettable our city is enduring this situation. However, when laws are broken, we turn to our law enforcement to restore order and protect our community,” Gutierrez said.

An attorney representing Chavarria, Robert McCabe, said Rayford failed to make “the legal and rational choice to stop” when police tried pulling him over. McCabe also said the officers' pursuit and use of force on Rayford was lawful.

Rayford’s attorneys have released their own statement following the teen’s arrest:

“Our offices are ready to gear up and share the truth behind this arrest, including discrepancies in statements previously made by Schertz PD. We will seek to protect this young man from a discriminatory narrative,” attorney Tess House stated.

“Unfortunately, this is yet another tragic example of a minor traffic violation resulting in a Black man in this country fearing for his life,” attorney Daryl K. Washington stated. “This traumatic interaction was unnecessarily caused by the unprofessional demeanor and actions of police officers who took an oath to serve and protect. It was extremely difficult watching Zekee plead for his father to save him.”

About the Authors:

Fares Sabawi has been a journalist in San Antonio for four years. He has covered several topics, but specializes in crime, courts, open records and data visualization.

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined the KSAT 12 Defenders in 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.