A Parker County grand jury has declined to indict two Parker County sheriff’s deputies in the death of 41-year-old Coy Wayne Walker, who died while being restrained by the deputies on May 23.
Walker’s parents, Herb and Judy Walker, who witnessed the incident, say one deputy beat, choked and jumped on Walker’s back and neck while he was lying handcuffed on the floor having a seizure.
However, Parker County District Attorney Don Schnebly said evidence supports statements by deputies that Walker was combative both before and after a Taser was used on him and before and after he was placed in handcuffs.
The grand jury presentation occurred a day after Tarrant County medical examiners decided that they could not determine exactly what led to the death of Walker, ruling it a sudden death during physical restraint with neck injury and methamphetamine intoxication, psychosis and an enlarged heart.
Any of those conditions alone or in combination could have killed Walker, according the medical examiner’s office.
More than seven times a lethal dose of methamphetamine was found in Walker’s system at the hospital, according to the autopsy report.
Walker had neck injuries that included a fractured hyoid bone as well as blunt force trauma to his head, face, torso and upper and lower extremities.
The events leading to Walker’s death began in the late evening hours when his mother called 911 asking for help in dealing with her son, who was destroying things in their home, according to Schnebly said.
Walker was on parole at the time of his death for convictions in 2010 of robbing and repeatedly assaulting his father.
He received those concurrent 8-year jail sentences while on parole after a Parker County jury convicted him of assaulting a Weatherford police officer in 2005 and gave him a 10-year sentence.
Walker’s parents said they called for medical help but the sheriff’s office believed it to be a domestic disturbance.
The Weatherford Democrat in May made a request for the 911 call, the officers’ report and other records pertaining to the incident but the Parker County Sheriff’s Office declined to release that information because it was being investigated by the Texas Rangers.
The Democrat made a request for that information again Friday morning but had not received a response by deadline.
One of the most significant factors in the case was that the medical examiner’s office found the official cause of death to be undetermined, Schnebly said.
“Statements given by the two deputies and Walker’s mother and father differed as to the precise nature of the struggle, including whether and how many times Walker kicked the deputies and how a deputy may have injured Walker’s neck,” Schnebly said in statement released Thursday after the grand jury decision. “There was no disagreement that the officers used force to detain Walker and there was evidence to support that he was combative with the deputies both before and after he was handcuffed and before and after he was tazed. The grand jury basically ruled that the evidence concerning the force used by the officers should not subject them to any criminal charges.”
“When the first deputy arrived on scene and attempted to arrest him, Walker was combative, swinging a metal stool and a curtain rod, was tazed twice, and eventually handcuffed,” Schnebly said. “As the second deputy arrived, Walker continued to kick and struggle.”
Schnebly also noted Walker’s history of violence, including a previous assault of a police officer.
In an interview with a Democrat reporter, Herb and Judy Walker told a story that was different from what Schnebly described.
They were awakened in the middle of the night by their son, who was at the doorway, staggering, sweating profusely and calling for help, said Judy Walker, who is a former nurse.
During a similar incident a couple months prior, during which Walker was transported by ambulance to the hospital, Walker was diagnosed with heat stroke, according to his parents, who said they assumed he was having the same issue.
Herb Walker said he tried to help his son get to the bathroom so they could cool him off but he was unable to support his son, who was larger than him.
They repeatedly fell in the kitchen and living room, crashing into the window and the china cabinet, breaking glass and pulling down the curtains, he said.
When Deputy Traci Brockway arrived, Coy Walker was sitting on the floor, propped against the wall, his parents said.
Herb Walker said that his son was physically unable to comply with Brockway’s commands or communicate as Brockway repeatedly threatened to use her Taser on him as he sat on the floor, shaking.
Brockway had used the taser on Walker and had him lying on his stomach, one wrist handcuffed, when Cpl. Ethan Stark came running up to the house, according to Herb Walker.
According to the Walkers’ accounts, Stark asked if there were weapons in the home but neither deputy asked any other questions of the couple.
Herb Walker said he watched Stark vault over the kitchen table and land on his son’s back as he lay on the floor.
Brockway was holding one of Walker’s legs, which were moving as Walker convulsed, according to Herb Walker, who said his son appeared to be having a seizure and not kicking at or presenting a threat to the deputies.
Stark finished handcuffing Walker’s arms behind his back, then jumped and landed with his knee on his neck and began repeatedly punching him in the face with his fist while pinning him to the floor, the father said.
Stark then straddled Walker and choked Walker’s neck with both hands, Herb Walker said.
Walker said his son did not fight with deputies or swing a stool or curtain rod and lay on the floor the entire time after Stark entered the home.
“I’m looking through the windows at my child on a dirty floor being beaten, choked and he’s not doing anything except dying like a dog,” Judy Walker said.
After admonishing Walker to obey deputies’ commands, Stark attempted to roll Walker over with his foot and realized there was a problem, Herb Walker said.
Coy Walker was unresponsive and blue in the face, according to Herb Walker, who said Stark began performing chest compressions.
Walker said he took over performing CPR on his son but there were no signs of life.
The Walkers, who testified during the grand jury proceedings Thursday, said they were disappointed about the decision to not issue an indictment.
“We thought that they would prosecute them or at least investigate or let us know something,” Walker said. “To me, we’ve got two officers out there that committed a murder and they’re still working.”
The Democrat, who received notice of the grand jury decision late in the day Thursday, was unable to obtain more information from the district attorney’s office regarding evidence supporting the deputies’ accounts.
Don Schnebly’s office was closed Friday due to a funeral and burial for a family member of Schnebly.
A spokesman for Schnebly, who does not speak with the media himself, declined to speak for Schnebly or contact Schnebly Friday with questions regarding the case.
The Democrat Friday night confirmed the names of the deputies involved and reached out to Stark and Brockway for comment on their Facebook account Saturday but did not receive a response by deadline.