VIDEO: LISD Board rejects grievance appeal filed by parent after February arrest, but says officers behavior “did not meet district expectations”

Updated: Jul. 16, 2020 at 5:43 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees voted to reject an appeal of a grievance by a Lubbock parent who claims he was illegally arrested by officers with LISD police, and asked for Chief Jody Scifres be fired.

Mark Camacho was arrested outside O.L. Slaton Middle School on February 14, for trespassing and resisting arrest.

During the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, July 16, Mark Camacho presented his grievance to Board President Zach Brady and the other Trustees.

“I was illegally arrested and injured by the excessive use of force, and falsely imprisoned,” Camacho told the Board, after he claims he witnessed a crime by LISD officer Lieutenant Darren Walters, as Chief Scifres stood by.

LISD Chief Operating Officer Rick Rodriguez spoke to the board, describing events leading up to Camacho’s arrest. Rodriguez said on the day of the incident, several altercations had broken out on campus, demanding additional officers’ response, and “an immediate need to disperse the students.”

At this time, Rodriguez said Camacho was parked on the street outside the school, when he questioned Chief Scifres on why the students were being dispersed.

According to body camera footage released by Lubbock ISD, Camacho was asked repeatedly to leave the campus before his arrest. However, Rodriguez told the Board he found campus and law enforcement staff could have arranged for a later meeting with Camacho to come back and discuss his concerns when events on campus were not demanding officers’ attention, but that did not occur.

”What the hell? This is not right.... My arm doesn’t extend that way... This is all wrong,” Camacho can be heard saying in the video as officers are placing him into handcuffs.

As seen in the body camera footage, at one point in the arrest officers took Camacho’s phone from him. Rodriguez told the Board that Camacho was supposed to be able to get his phone back from LISD Police, but the female officer who took Camacho’s phone didn’t realize she had taken it home in the pocket of her uniform until two days later.

Rodriguez stated Scifres and his officers had the legal authority to remove Camacho from the campus, “However, I also found that staff, both campus and law enforcement, could have offered the opportunity for Mr. Camacho to come back at another time to discuss his concerns. But, that opportunity did not occur and instead, he was just asked to leave the property.”

Camacho said during the arrest, he was met with “intimidation and threats.” He told the Board he believed there was a conflict of interest, as Rodriguez served as a Level 3 Grievance Officer in this incident’s investigation, and an outside organization should have taken over.

“This investigation is a joke. An outside agency should have investigated since it involved the Chief and Lieutenant officers of rank. Rick, this is unethical for you to take part in this investigation. There is a huge conflict of interest because you and the Chief are best buddies. You are both from Roswell and you are the one that hired him.”

Camacho said he believes the Board has overlooked “corruption” by Chief Scifres.

“I believe your motto, ‘Every child every day’ are simply just words to make the district look good. All words and no action,” Camacho told the Board.

In his closing remarks, Camacho told the Board: “I could’ve been the next George Floyd.”

Board Vice President Bill Stubblefield passionately disagreed with this comparison. “He was a Black man who lost his life. And you put those on even measuring scales? I don’t think I could pay anyone in this room a million dollars to be black for 30 days. When you said that, that’s what you turned it into.”

Trustee Lala Chavez said she was appalled by video of the incident, and believed it was an illegal arrest.

“I think most every adult involved in this situation acted out of line.” Trustee Ryan Curry said. “Mr. Camacho originally did have great intentions about asking what was going on. I believe somewhere within a few minutes, he took that to a different level... He said that he cared about the kids and that’s why he was doing it.... But, yet, there were six adults that had to interact with him, as opposed to the situations that were going on in the school.”

The Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to reject the grievance appeal, and did not recommend the firing of Chief Scifres. The finding of the level 2 appeal was upheld by a vote of 6-1 as well.

Camacho told the Board the charges against him for trespassing and resisting arrest were dropped by the District Attorney. Lieutenant Walters is no longer with the LISD Police force, according to the Board of Trustees. It is unknown if his reason for leaving is related to this incident.

The Chair of the Lubbock NAACP Legal Redress Committee attended the Board meeting and stated the committee received a complaint from Camacho, and are in the process of investigating.

A full four-hour copy of video from Thursday’s Board of Trustees meeting can be seen on LISD social media, here. Discussion for Camacho’s case begins around the 1 hour, 38 minute mark.

LISD released the following statement after the Board’s vote:

The Lubbock Independent School District Board of Trustees ruled this morning that actions taken by officers with the Lubbock ISD Police Department were not deliberately indifferent during an interaction involving a member of the public outside of O.L. Slaton Middle School on February 14, 2020. Mark Camacho filed an appeal of his grievance alleging illegal arrest when he was taken into custody for trespassing. In a Level II appeal, a district administrator ruled the arrest of Mr. Camacho was legal. Mr. Camacho filed a Level III grievance requesting a hearing in open session before the Lubbock ISD Board of Trustees. By a vote of 6-1, trustees ruled that the arrest was legal, but stated the actions taken by the officers did not meet district expectations. Trustees ruled to deny the appeal and uphold the administration’s response from the Level II hearing.

You can see the body camera footage provided by Lubbock ISD below:

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