Crime

Texas Rangers investigating report that KKK-clad teens used stun gun on Black student

The Texas Rangers are investigating an accusation that Woodsboro High School students, dressed as Ku Klux Klan members shocked a Black teenager with a Taser or stun gun on Halloween night, an attorney says.

An investigation began after Refugio County sheriff’s deputies were called to Woodsboro after a caller reported a teen was shocked by a “Taser or cattle-prod-like” device, said Sheriff Raul “Pinky” Gonzales. The Woodsboro Police Department is the lead investigating agency.

Assistant District Attorney Tim Poynter, who serves Refugio County, said as of Wednesday no arrests had been made and no criminal charges had been filed in regard to the incident.

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In a Nov. 9 Facebook post, Woodsboro Superintendent Ronald D. Segers Jr., who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, said the incident did not occur at a school or school-sponsored activity. As a result, the district cannot punish the students involved.

Poynter said the Texas Rangers were called to assist Woodsboro police in order to ensure a “thorough and fair” investigation. He declined to say when the state investigators were notified.

“We take this very seriously,” he said. “The Texas Rangers do a great job, and they are the right people to help us with this.”

Woodsboro Police Chief Ryan Gregory was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

Corpus Christi attorney Matt Manning, who is representing the Black teenager, said his client was shocked with a Taser or Taser-like device by one of three Woodsboro High School students dressed up as Ku Klux Klan members on Oct. 31.

Poynter and Sgt. Nathan Brandley, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, declined to answer questions about that night, citing the ongoing investigation.

Manning declined to identify his client or the three students he says were the perpetrators. As of Wednesday, he said he and his client are not considering civil action.

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“The paramount concern is making sure that the investigation is conducted appropriately, which we trust that it will be,” he said.

Manning said his client is in good health but could suffer long-term effects from the incident.

“This has the potential to be traumatic for a long time considering the Klan is particularly emotionally evocative to Black people,” he said.

The Woodsboro school district will continue to work with law enforcement as the criminal investigation proceeds. The district will “strictly enforce” its anti-discrimination policy permitted by law and its Student Code of Conduct, according to the Facebook statement.

“(Woodsboro’s school district) will reevaluate the situation if additional facts are discovered that bring (it) within the jurisdiction of the WISD Student Code of Conduct,” Segers said in the statement.

Written by crogers@vicad.com

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