A man accused of dragging a Texarkana, Texas, police officer during a traffic stop in May was granted a slight reduction in his bail Friday following a hearing in Bowie County.
Jaroy Simpson, 25, entered pleas of not guilty Wednesday to charges of aggravated assault on a public servant, evading arrest in a vehicle, theft of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance. Bail on those charges and a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession were initially totaled $210,000.
Simpson's lawyer, Darren Anderson of Texarkana, filed a motion to reduce Simpson's bail and 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart held a hearing Friday to address the issue. Anderson said Simpson is a former Marine who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.
Anderson said prolonged incarceration could negatively impact Simpson's benefits and said a Veteran's Administration administrator who manages Simpson's personal financial affairs described Simpson as "no trouble."
Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp opposed any reduction in bail.
"The V.A. may not have any trouble with him but we do. And so does the Texarkana, Texas, Police Department," Crisp said. "If he has some sort of medical condition that he cannot control and that puts lives at risk then he needs to be incarcerated where he can't put others in danger."
Lockhart agreed to allow Simpson to use the Bowie County personal recognizance bond system for his charges of theft of a firearm, possession and evading but he did not lower the amounts. In the PR bond system, defendants are required to pay three percent of the bail amount while commercial bondsmen typically require ten percent.
Lockhart said he is willing to allow Simpson to utilize the PR system because of the supervision and drug and alcohol monitoring that comes with it. While Lockhart declined to allow Simpson to use the PR system on the assault charge, he did reduce the bail amount from $150,000 to $100,000.
Lockhart said that if Simpson does manage to make bond, he will be required to wear a GPS leg monitor. Simpson has been in jail since his arrest May 15. His trouble began with a traffic stop shortly after midnight in the 1500 block of West Seventh Street, according to a probable cause affidavit used to create the following account.
Texarkana, Texas, Police Officer Colten Johnson noticed a strong odor of "green marijuana" coming from inside Simpson's white Chevrolet Malibu while speaking with Simpson, who allegedly was upset and argumentative about being stopped for making a wide right turn.
The smell of fresh marijuana coupled with Simpson's allegedly aggressive posture led Johnson to call for backup. A short time later, Officer Austin Butts arrived, and Simpson was asked to step out of the Malibu. While being patted down for officer safety, Simpson allegedly continued to argue and claimed the odor of marijuana was not coming from the car, but "from him smoking at his house."
"Officer Butts then advised that he could see green marijuana lying on the center console," the affidavit states.
Butts walked around to the driver's side of Simpson's car where Johnson was attempting to handcuff Simpson, who then "dove into the driver seat of his vehicle."
Simpson resisted Johnson's and Butts' attempts to pull him from the car and managed to move the gear shift into drive. With both officers partially inside, Simpson accelerated.
"I (Johnson) was stuck between the driver door and Officer Butts, and Officer Butts was hung inside of the vehicle," the affidavit states. "I was able to exit the vehicle while Simpson was accelerating after I was dragged a few feet, and I attempted to grab Officer Butts and pull him from the vehicle."
Johnson was able to pull Butts a short distance out of the Malibu, but he remained lodged part-way inside as Simpson accelerated with Butts being dragged for several feet.
Simpson sped away after Butts broke free and fell onto the concrete, but officers quickly found the Malibu in the backyard of Simpson's residence in the 1700 block of West Fifth Street.
Simpson was found hiding behind an unattached door leaning against the wall of a small "add on" to the rear of the house. After taking Simpson into custody, officers again turned their attention to the Malibu.
"The driver's door was open, and I observed 11 clear plastic bags lying in the driver door in plain view next to a 30-round firearm magazine that contained 22 rounds of 7.62 ammunition," the affidavit states. "The clear plastic bags contained a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana."
The allegedly plain-view marijuana gave officers the probable cause needed to search the rest of Simpson's car. Inside they found a black backpack which held a clear bag containing 14 pills of assorted colors stamped with different types of figurines. The pills allegedly field tested positively for ecstasy. More alleged marijuana was discovered in the backpack, along with a fully loaded black 9 mm Beretta handgun.
The handgun allegedly had been reported stolen to Texarkana, Ark., police. After finding the gun, officers discovered a container holding 10 rounds of 7.62 ammunition, 80 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and four rounds of .22-caliber ammunition. In the back seat, a large firearm magazine containing 31 rounds of 7.62 ammunition was discovered, along with an AK-47 rifle wrapped in a shirt.
Simpson faces six months to two years in a state jail if convicted of theft of a firearm. Both the evading and drug possession charge are punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. If convicted of assaulting a public servant, Simpson faces five to 99 years or life in prison.
He is scheduled to appear before Lockhart in November for a pretrial hearing.