In the two weeks since Zekee Rayford was violently arrested by Schertz, Texas, police, his case has made national headlines and resulted in an ongoing internal investigation into the conduct of the three arresting officers.
The 18-year-old was going home Nov. 2 when police say they attempted to pull him over for running a red light. Rayford did not pull over for roughly a mile until he pulled into his family’s driveway and walked to the front door with his hands raised. As Rayford knocked on the front door of his home and screamed for his father, Schertz police kicked, tased and kneed him, according to the Rayford family’s home surveillance footage.
Rayford was charged with evading arrest, resisting arrest and possession of marijuana, Guadalupe County Jail records show.
As Rayford’s family continues to call for justice — including the firing of the officers and Rayford’s charges to be dropped — Schertz police and city leaders have been largely silent about the issue.
Here’s what you need to know about the case in the San Antonio suburb.
What the video shows
Despite requests from media and Rayford’s legal team, Schertz police have yet to release their footage of the incident. The case received attention after the Rayford family shared out the footage caught by their multiple surveillance cameras.
Police said they attempted to stop Rayford after he drove through a red light off Schertz Parkway. They say he drove to the Wilson Preserve neighborhood instead of pulling over. Rayford’s attorneys say he was returning home from a night class.
The home security footage first shows Rayford standing in his driveway with his hands in the air as police point their service weapons at him. Then he quickly moves 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 on Rayford as he lies on the ground, while another officer can be seen kneeing the teen repeatedly.
After about 30 seconds, 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, later identified as Frank Chavarria, replies to a family member, “You better relax, or you’re going to get it next. I promise you, you will.”
The KSAT 12 Defenders have requested a copy of body-worn and dashboard camera footage of the attempted traffic stop and subsequent arrest from Schertz police, but have so far not heard back. The department has also not handed over a copy of the written incident report or the personnel files of any of the three officers involved, as those requests from the KSAT Defenders remain pending as well.
The family and legal team of Zekee Rayford say they have not heard from the Schertz Police Department, either, despite being witnesses to the incident now under investigation. The Guadalupe County District Attorney’s Office, which would be the prosecuting office, has also not heard from Schertz PD, a spokesperson told KSAT Tuesday morning.
What we know about the officers involved
Two days after the arrest, Schertz police issued a short press release acknowledging Rayford’s arrest.
“Following this arrest’s events, an internal investigation has been initiated to ensure all Schertz Police Department policies and procedures were followed,” officials wrote at the end of the release.
Days later, Schertz police confirmed that the three officers shown in the video were removed from patrol duty while the internal investigation is underway, a standard step when there’s a credible excessive force allegation.
The officers have been identified as Megan Fennesy, Danielle Apgar and Frank Chavarria.
According to state personnel records obtained by KSAT, Fennesy has been with the department for more than two years, Apgar has been with the department for five years, and Chavarria had only been with the department for one month before the incident occurred.
Chavarria, who has bounced around between five different departments in the past six years, is represented by attorney Robert McCabe.
In a statement, McCabe blamed the use of force on Rayford for failing to make the “legal and rational choice to stop" when police first attempted to pull him over.
“The officers' pursuit of Mr. Rayford was lawful, as was their use of force against him and we expect a full, fair and just result from this investigation,” McCabe said.
One of Rayford’s attorneys, Daryl Washington, said that one of the officers involved in Rayford’s arrest may have a “checkered past” that they are looking into.
City leaders have been largely silent about the case
After Rayford’s arrest, the family went to a Schertz city council meeting to demand justice.
The family members, along with several supporters, showed up to the meeting to express support for Rayford.
Zekee Rayford’s mother, Dina Rayford, asked city leaders to have empathy for her son.
“They just let me talk, but no feedback at all (from city council)," Dina Rayford said in a subsequent press conference.
During the meeting, Schertz Mayor Ralph Gutierrez briefly addressed the issue.
“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.
What’s next will happen in the courtroom
Prior to his arrest on Nov. 2, Zekee Rayford has two other pending cases against him. The first is a possession of marijuana charge stemming from a 2019 incident. In the second incident, which occurred in April, he was charged with delivery of marijuana, evading arrest and engaging in organized criminal activity.
Charges from those cases are pending, Guadalupe County Attorney David Willborn told KSAT.
Willborn’s office will be the one to decide whether to dismiss the charges stemming from Rayford’s most recent arrest.
Rayford’s attorneys have said they “fully intend” to defend Rayford in court if the charges are not dismissed. The family also wants to see the officers held accountable.
“I really want to see their badges,” Dina Rayford said. “They don’t need them, they don’t deserve them.”
Schertz police have not said when they anticipate wrapping up their internal investigation.
Willborn said Tuesday the charges from the Nov. 2 arrest had not yet been forwarded to his office.