WAXAHACHIE — While some photos are worth a thousand words, others are worth a trip to the big house — just ask Ellis County Precinct 3 Constable-elect Tyron Davis.
Davis was arrested Dec. 16 by the Waxahachie Police Department on a warrant from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement for falsely identifying as a police officer.
Davis won the seat in the May 24 primary run-off election against incumbent Jimmie Ray. He was officially elected to office during the Nov. 8 General Election. This is also Davis’ second arrest in the past year.
CUT AND PASTE
According to the affidavit for warrant of arrest and detention issued on Dec. 12, Davis, while engaged in an election campaign for constable for Precinct 3, allegedly identified himself as a commissioned peace officer or a reserve law enforcement officer between March 28 and April 27. The affidavit states that Davis allegedly possessed and posted to his Facebook page an altered photo of his head on the body of Constable Michael R. Campbell’s reelection photo. The photo showed Campbell in a full law enforcement uniform with a shoulder emblem with the word “constable” and a badge visible on the document.
The warrant also stated that Davis does not currently possess an active peace officer license and is not currently commissioned as a peace officer with any law enforcement agency in any capacity.
Ellis County Judge Carol Bush said that, at this point, she has "no indication that [Davis] would not be able to qualify to serve in this role."
“The removal process becomes available once it is apparent, for whatever reason, that Mr. Davis would not be able to qualify under the terms of the statute, such as a conviction,” Bush said. "I would have to get some direction from the sectary of state for the (special) elections. Perhaps it would be an interim appointment if not an outright appointment depending on what the rules were. These are kind of complex legal questions that you have to run through the checklist to determine which path you would have to follow.
"I can say this in general if there is a vacancy in that office due to whatever reason it would then be the responsibility of the commissioners' court to fill the vacancy. Right now until we have some indication that it is not appropriate to move forward, the constable elect would be sworn in after the first of the year.”
Bush said the law provides 270 days newly elected constables 270 days to complete all TCOLE certifications that are a prerequisite to holding the office or performing some the functions of the office.
The TCOLE website states that its agency operations consist of four separate service units to carry out the various responsibilities of the office.
The credentialing unit is responsible for the licensing and certifications of Texas peace officers, county jailers, Telecommunicators. The enforcement unit is comprised of commissioned investigators who investigate both administrative and criminal violations of law as it relates to the agency's mission. The special services unit is "responsible for on-line and distance education, coordination of exam sites, database management, web management, technology infrastructure, training provider assistance and evaluation, and examination administration, and program security." The field services unit is comprised of agents on the ground who are located in specific geographic regions statewide. These agents work in the area with agencies on-site to provide assistance.
ROCK THE VOTE
This is the second time that Davis has been charged with a crime in the past year.
A June 25 Daily Light article reported that, according to documents filed with Ellis County Court at Law No. 2, Davis is facing three charges of failure to comply without signing as a voting application assistant as outlined in Sec. 86.010 of the Texas Elections Code.
The report states that, on or about April 25, Davis knowingly failed to affix his signature, his own name in printed form and/or his address to an application ballot by mail for six individuals.
Sec. 86.010 of the Texas Elections Code requires those who assist voters to fill in the name, residence address, mailing address and/or date of birth of the applicants on the application for ballot by mail.
According to the affidavit for probable cause, county elections administrator Jana Onyon contacted chief investigator Jeff Ward of the Ellis County and District Attorney's Office on April 28. Onyon reported that on April 27, two men wearing some type of official seals on their shirts contacted her office and requested to see Davis' campaign finance reports.
"Jana Onyon went on to report that on the same day when the staff got ready to process the mail for the day, they came across 18 mail ballot applications and 15 voter registration applications all having similarities," Ward stated in the affidavit. "Jana Onyon reported that the problem with the applications is that all 18 mail ballot applications were blank in the box 11a section, which is where an assistant or witness must sign if they helped the voter fill out the application."
The affidavit stated Onyon reported this violation of Election Code Section 84.003, which is a Class A misdemeanor if the assistant did not fill out the section. Ward obtained verbal consent from Onyon and took the forms as evidence.
On April 28, the County and District Attorney's Office received a phone call from Onyon advising that clerk Eloisa Rios had made a report about giving Davis forms, according to the affidavit.
"Eloisa Rios reported that Tyron Davis came into the elections office and received voter registration applications on several occasions. Eloisa Rios made a report that she advised Tyron Davis personally that he was (to) complete the proper sections regarding witnessing/assisting voter applicants in completing this form to avoid is being a violation of the law," the affidavit stated.
Further investigation by Ward found that 15 of the 18 applications were made at Renfro Healthcare Center on Main Street. Two other applications were for residents living on North Aikin Street. Ward and Ellis County Sheriff's Office Investigator Mike Turner contacted the administrator of the Renfro Kendra King.
"Investigator Tuner and I interviewed Kendra King and learned that a person described as an African American male, approximately six foot (tall) came to the center and spoke with her regarding the voter application," Ward stated in the affidavit. "I asked Ms. King if she could recognize the man if I showed a picture of the person. Ms. King stated 'yes, I just don't remember the name.' I showed Ms. King a picture of Tyron Davis and Ms. King instantly recognized the person as Tyron Davis."
Interviews with applicants at Renfro were conducted on April 29, according to the affidavit. The people making application for a mail-in ballot confirmed they had assistance and most identified Davis as the person who assisted them. Several people interview did not know what they were signing, the affidavit stated. The residents on Aikin Street and the resident on Ross Street reported the same. Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Jackie Miller Jr. issued a warrant.
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said his office is specifically authorized to conduct investigations into violations of the election code.
"Allegations about criminal conduct were brought to our attention and we promptly investigated the matter. We thought that it was of the utmost importance given the fact that this is an individual that is on a ballot in less than a month's time," Wilson said in the June 25 article. "We thought that we needed to respond quickly and that is what we have done."
Wilson said this offense is a Class A misdemeanor and can bring up to a year in jail with a $4,000 fine.
In a previously statement released by Davis' attorney Theresa Peel, she stated her client thought he was performing a community service when he went to Renfro Healthcare Center to register voters.
According to Peel, a former Renfro employee contacted Davis, suggesting that several residents were unable to vote in the election because they were not registered to vote, asking for Davis' help. Renfro provided all of the names, dates of birth, and identification numbers to Davis and asked Davis to visit the residents and get the resident signatures, Peel's release stated.
"Davis provided voter registration applications and assisted the Renfro residents in completing the applications. The voter registration form is only used to register to vote. Basic information is provided: name, address, date of birth, gender, identification number, and signature of the applicant," Peel's release stated. "The applications have no place for anyone other than the applicant to sign. Additionally, some of the residents requested mail-in ballot applications, which Davis provided. It was on the mail-in application that Davis overlooked the fine print indicating he needed to complete the witness section. At no point during the visit with the residents were any ballots present. Davis did not mark any ballots for any residents, nor did he offer any incentives to vote for any particular candidates."
In Peel's statement Davis said he was only looking to help residents.
"I am thankful that the staff at the elections office is diligent in ensuring the election is conducted in a fair and honest manner," Davis stated in Peel's release. "However, I had no intention of committing any voter fraud or committing any other disservice to our community. My only intent was to provide a service to residents of the nursing home who were unable to register to vote without assistance and I apologize if I did not properly complete the mail-in application forms."
Davis’ second pretrial hearing is set to take place at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 25, 2017 in County Court at Law 2 on the charges from his first arrest. Online jail records from the Wayne McCollum Detention Center no longer list Davis in its custody.
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