Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson is looking to clarify misconceptions about the arrest of Tom Beard, board member of the Brewster County Groundwater Conservation District.
The arrest, which was captured on video, happened last week at the Pumpco site in Alpine.
According to the Sheriff, Beard went to the Pumpco site after a citizen presented a complaint of an unpermitted water well.
“We received a phone call from the Pumpco site that there was an individual on the grounds that was trespassing and they were trying to get him to leave,” Dodson said.
Deputies responded to the site and found Beard and other members of the Brewster County Groundwater Conservation District. When asked to leave, the other board members obeyed the deputy, but Beard refused to leave, Dodson said.
“Mr. Beard drove onto the property and there was a big embankment in the back side of the property, drove on to the embankment, stopped all of the work because they had a lot of heavy equipment,” Dodson said.
According to the Sheriff, Beard was looking to get the name of a Pumpco supervisor. The deputy tried to get help getting a name but was unable to do so. The incident took almost an hour and a half, the Sheriff said.
“He told us they had the right to be there,” Dodson said. “We looked in the website and it said they could go to a permitted well and they could go into the property but if they were asked to leave they had to leave.”
But the Sheriff said the problem was that this particular water well was unpermitted.
“They have authority, civil authority to take care of this kind of stuff if it was a permitted well,” Dodson said.
The Sheriff said he spoke to the deputy on site at the time of the incident and also received advice from the county attorney.
He also said he encouraged his deputy to reason with Beard, but he refused to leave. They arrested Beard and charged him with criminal trespass (a Class A misdemeanor) and assault on a public servant (a third degree felony).
“When the deputy arrested him, it went south from there,” Dodson said.
The Sheriff said the video posted online only shows part of the arrest, leaving out parts where Beard was disrespectful to the deputy.
“The video online doesn’t show him stumping the deputy’s feet, it doesn’t show him belittling the deputy,” Dodson said.
Elizabeth Rogers, the attorney representing Beard said she disagrees with the Sheriff.
“We look forward to defending these charges before a jury of his peers,” she said in a statement.
Dodson said they too, look forward to presenting their evidence. He said the deputy’s body cam has proof of his words, and looks forward to when the video becomes public record so that Alpine residents can see what happened the Pumpco site.
“It will show that the deputy didn’t abuse him,” Dodson said. “The deputy didn’t belittle him.”