PARIS, TX – A video showing a Texas teen being thrown on top of a police car by an arresting officer has sparked more questions about racial issues in the town. The video taken last November shows 18 year old Cornelius Gill, who asserts he was picking pecans near his home when Officer Jeremy Massey approached him with accusations about a car theft, being forcibly thrown onto the hood of the vehicle. Gill has stated that Massey was driving an unmarked pickup truck, was in plain clothes, and was not recognizable as a police officer. Massey subsequently accused Gill of assaulting him during the incident, and suggested in a written statement that the act was out of self-defense.
According to documents, Gill was charged with disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, and assault on a public servant in connection with the incident. On the full length version of the video, officers can be heard discussing what Gill will be charged with during his transport to the police station; however, no mention is made of the assault, which was added to his record the following day, and cannot be seen on the police video. Records also show that in a statement from Officer Massey regarding what took place during the incident, he alleges he was kicked by Gill in his left shoulder. A filing of the charge by Lamar County Prosecutor Gary Young states the location of the purported injury was to the officer’s torso. Cpl Doug Murphy, who transported the teen to the police station for processing, also accused Gill of damaging a rear window in a police vehicle and stated the damages were in the amount of $55. In another filing by Young, the damage is stated to be for over $500.
The case has sparked more controversy for the small Texas town, which has made headlines over the past few years for incidents in which racism was alleged to have played a role. The arrest of Gill, who was unable to graduate from high school as planned this year due to spending 100 days in jail after entering a plea in December, has brought forth more questions about the treatment of African Americans in the Paris judicial system. Gill has stated that he entered the plea because Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville told him he would be sentenced to eight years in prison if he did not. He pleaded no contest to the offense of assault causes bodily injury.
In a case similar to Gill’s, a 23 year-old white man charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and fighting in public received a less severe penalty after an officer became injured during an attempt to arrest him. It was stated in a Paris News article that the officer sustained a broken leg during the arrest of David Ray Decker, who was subsequently only charged with disorderly conduct for the encounter according to a police report.
Officer Massey, who was placed on a two-day suspension after the arrest, has filed an appeal to have the suspension taken off of his record and be compensated for lost pay for the two days of missed work.