ECTOR COUNTY, TX. (KMID/KPEJ) – “When I dialed on the phone, I thought they were going to kill me, you know. These guys are just out of hand. ‘Were you scared for your life or anything?’ Oh, the whole time,” said Odessa man, Dennis Roberson.
He sat down with ABC Big 2 News exclusively. He says he was assaulted by several Ector County Sheriff’s deputies last year.
On October 3rd, 2021 Odessa native and local business owner, Dennis Roberson says deputies came onto his property looking for a suspect involved in a traffic violation. He said it was his friend that had come by just a few minutes before.
“The suspect that they were looking for admitted that, that that was his truck and that he was involved in some kind of traffic altercation somewhere else,” said Roberson.
Roberson says from there, the deputies began questioning him for no reason.
“And the guy said that it was his company truck. So one deputy was talking to him and I was sitting looking at these other two. They kept on talking and talking. I was like look, man, I got nothing to do with that. I don’t know nothing about all that he has going on. And I explained to them that, you know, take him and, you know, y’all get off my property, that trucks not on my property,” said Roberson.
Marvilyn Blair is a local attorney. She’s representing Roberson in this case
“We have a right to feel protected by our police and sheriff. And the fact that Mr. Roberson wasn’t even a suspect, that he was on his business property, that he asked them to leave because they were starting to ask him questions and they had no warrant they had no probable cause. And from what I see in the video, no reasonable suspicion to even talk with him,” said Blair.
After deputies began questioning Roberson, he told them to leave from his property and began to turn around. That’s when Roberson says and body cam video confirms that things got violent.
“It was a traumatic event. The guys are military trained in hand combat and it took three of them to jump me from behind,” said Roberson.
“I find it very disconcerting that two of your deputies and a supervisor came to a man’s business in search of a suspect found the suspect. And when asked to leave the property, which was my client’s legal right, Mr. Robertson’s legal right, and they didn’t leave. And this incident ensued,” said Blair. “It would have been different had he not had he been a suspect, but they already had the suspect so-called in custody and they were already talking with him. Mr. Roberson was just a bystander, basically.”
From there, Roberson asked deputies repeatedly to call 911. He says he has several internal injuries previous to this incident and that he now needed medical attention.
When he says deputies did not call for medical attention initially, Roberson tried to on his own phone. That’s when his phone was thrown and he says it hit a windshield of one of the cars on his property. Then body cam video shows he was slammed up against another car.
“I was in handcuffs, and I picked up the phone. That’s when he slammed me on that SUV again after he snatched it, he threw it and they grabbed me up again,” said Roberson. “They strained my back and my neck pretty bad. I don’t have any ribs on my right side. So and they kept slamming me against stuff, it was some internal injuries.”
Roberson says he is blind in his right eye as well.
He has had to undergo months of physical therapy since the incident.
“Two and a half months of back, therapy now I’m doing neck therapy and they scheduled me for two months of that. Also, I’m getting injections in my back. It’s interfering with my dealership. I’m having to go to the doctors and take time off and stuff. And I’m not up to speed when it comes to the paperwork.” said Roberson.
“We’ve waited a while, tried to work with the sheriff’s office to so that we didn’t have to, so that Mr. Roberson didn’t feel he had to go public with it. He wanted, you know, justice to be done. He wanted to be made whole.” said Blair.
He says this is in addition to the damage to his porch, car and cellphone that still has not been offered to be fixed.
He’s now looking for assault charges to be filed and the deputies to be reprimanded accordingly.
“They called me about two weeks later, a lieutenant did and said that they was going to reprimand them guys and they weren’t going to pay for my windshield. But I never did get an answer to exactly what reprimand happened, or whatever,” said Roberson.
“I mean, I think society our community needs to be made aware. And I think the sheriff’s office needs to be held accountable.” said Blair.
“Get some training and learn how to treat citizens like citizens, that’s fine with me.” said Roberson.
Roberson says since the incident, deputies have been harassing him at his place of business.
“Oh, well, shortly after that, they started stopping my customers and stuff, and then they started having traffic stops right in front, which I’ve been out there 22 years and we don’t have that type of activity out there.” said Roberson.
Blair says she will continue to defend her client.
She says she has not yet filed any petition, because they have tried to work with the ECSO to keep this incident out of the courtroom.
“We’ve already done a demand letter because, like I said, we tried to work with the sheriff’s office behind the scenes. They stonewalled us.” said Blair.
We did reach out to Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis to see if he wanted to talk about this case.
He wouldn’t talk about this on camera, but he did release a statement that reads in part quote:
“We have been advised not to make any comments due to pending litigation.”
He went on to say, “One of the deputies involved now works for Monahans, and left the department voluntarily. Another deputy involved has not been suspended.”
From this point, Mr. Roberson says he is looking for justice to be served, after he says he was refused an apology by all involved.