LPD indictments returned in February

 

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

A Llano County grand jury has issued additional indictments against the Llano with a police chief and a former officer in connection with a May 2, 1027, arrest of a Llano man.

Llano Police Chief Kevin Ratliff and former officer Grant Harden both were charged Monday, Feb. 26 with a count of official oppression by trespass, a count of official oppression by false arrest and a count of tampering with a government document. Both men turned themselves in to the Llano County Jail for booking and since have been released on bond.

Official oppression is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a jail term up up to one year and/or a fine, not to exceed $4,000. Tampering with a government document is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days-two years in a state jail facility and/or a fine up to $10,000.

The charges are in connection with a May 2, 2017, incident involving the arrest of Corey Nutt on charges of public intoxication at Nutt’s residence in Llano.

According to the indictments, Harden is accused of unlawfully forcing Nutt out of his trailer home and arresting him and failing to include that information on an official arrest report, which is a government record.

The charges against Nutt were dropped later.

“At this time, we don’t anticipate any additional charges in relation to this case,” said District Attorney Wiley “Sonny” McAfee. “Chief Ratliff’s trial has already been set for May 28 at this time.”

Ratliff, Harden and two others, Sgt. Jared Latta and Officer Aimee Shannon, previously were indicted on Jan. 29 of this year on official oppression charges in connection with the May 2 incident, while Harden also was indicted on tampering with a government document.

Shannon is accused of being present during an unlawful arrest and threatening to tase the victim in her capacity as a Llano police officer.

Ratliff and Latta each are accused of knowing the arrest was unlawful and aiding in it.

Ratliff, Latta and Shannon were placed on administrative leave with pay after a complaint charging official misconduct was lodge with McAfee’s office.

Harden was already on paid leave at the time he was indicted.

Video of the incident shows a heated conversation between Nutt and Harden and Shannon over accusations Nutt was publicly intoxicated and failed to identify himself to officers.

Harden was also indicted on new charges in relation to an April 25, 2016, traffic stop.

A video of that incident shows him wrestling a 20-year-old female subject to the ground.

Harden is charged with official oppression by assault and official oppression by unlawful arrest in that case.

An attorney for Ratliff, Austin Shell, has previously The Highlander his client has done nothing wrong and is looking forward to h is case being “set for trial as soon as the law allows us.”

“Unless there is some evidence out there that I don’t know of which convinces me otherwise, I believe my client has done nothing wrong,” said Shell. “I believe his presence prevented a situatioin from getting out of hand and he handled the situation calmly and cooly and his actions prevented a man from being tased.”

Shell said his client went to the scene to help calm down the situation.

“By the time he gets there, Officer Shannon had already pointed her taser at this guy, who is like six-foot and 300 pounds,” Shell said.

“When the chief gets there, he de-escalates the situation briefly and arrests Nutt. He steps into his trailer, walks him down steps and puts him in handcuffs and arrests him.”

“There is no evidence of cussing from the chief and certainly no assault,” Shell continiued. “I think a large part of that is because of how he handled it and de-escalated it. If (Nutt) had been tased while he was standing in the trailer, it would have been a two-three-foot fall and he could have been hurt.

“Chief Ratliff’s presence prevented that from happening.”

Shell said he believes the prosecution is taking a position that Nutt should not have been arrested because he was inside his own trailer, but added there is evidence Nutt was intoxicated while outside in public near the roadway prior to the confrontation and “this would have given officers discretion when there is a breach in the law.”

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