Dead Body Disqualifies Valdez

Dead Body Disqualifies Valdez December 9, 2017
NBCDFW / ScreenShot
NBCDFW / ScreenShot

*Dallas Morning News Editorial // appearing online on December 9, 2017 @ // appearing in print on December 11, 2017

On drugs and out of his mind, Joseph Hutcheson raced around Dallas. It was Aug. 1, 2015, and Hutcheson knew he was taking a ride for his life. With every second, he felt worse and worse.

Seeing the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, Hutcheson swerved to a stop. Seeing the glass doors, Hutcheson raced up the concrete hill. Busting the lobby doors open around 10:24 a.m., Hutcheson started to do whatever he could to get help.

As time passed with no response, Hutcheson grew more desperate. When deputies started to approach, he started shouting out: “Don’t be scared of me, I just need some help.”

Their patience having run its course, the deputies pounced. Other people in the lobby could not believe what they were seeing.

As Hutcheson pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, witness April Berryhill described one deputy having a “knee to his back” and another having a “knee to his throat.” The force being placed on his body was incompatible with the maintenance of life.

Eventually, all of the screaming stopped. Hutcheson’s face turned from white to blue. In the midst of his decline, the deputies were still forcefully restraining him. Once they realized that he had lost consciousness, they called for help.

CPR was not started for some time. No matter how many times they pumped, there was nothing they could do. The lobby security cameras recorded it all. Through brutalizing force, the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department killed Joseph Hutcheson.

Responsibility for this incident rests squarely on the shoulders of Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Now, she wants to be governor.

Throughout the duration of the video, it is clear that the deputies did not have adequate training to deal with this situation. Many departments around the country have spent considerable resources on training for dealing with people who are mentally ill or on drugs. There are plenty of options besides lethal force. Responsibility for such a glaring omission rests with Sheriff Valdez.

How many more Texans would die if a Gov. Valdez made such omissions?

As the body of Joseph Hutcheson lies on the floor, people don’t seem to know how to administer proper medical treatment. CPR was abysmally tardy. Sheriff Valdez did not put mechanisms in place to provide medical care for an incredibly vulnerable man.

How could we trust a Gov. Valdez to make sure other vulnerable people receive proper medical care?

Immediately after Hutcheson’s death, Sheriff Valdez presided over a declaration that officers found drugs in Hutcheson’s truck. Ultimately, the department had to admit that statement was a lie. Did the department mean to defame the victim to absolve itself?

How many more advantageous lies would a Gov. Valdez tell?

As the Hutcheson family mourned, they heard nothing from Sheriff Valdez. Even though Hutcheson died in her jail, they heard nothing. Even though her deputies killed their loved one, they heard nothing. After some time, in the midst of rallies and protests, Sheriff Valdez released a statement of condolence to the Hutcheson family. Did politics dictate her conscience?

How could we believe that a Gov. Valdez would be compassionate?

It took weeks and weeks to get Sheriff Valdez to release the video of the incident. Friends and family of Hutcheson rallied and rallied and rallied. She wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t until we garnered a significant amount of media attention and spoke before the Commissioners Court that she decided to release the video. Politics won again.

How often would a Gov. Valdez refuse to release public information?

Time continued to pass. Believing that people have a right to know who is policing them, we kept demanding that Sheriff Valdez release the names of the deputies involved in the death of Joseph Hutcheson. She wouldn’t do it. Ultimately, a leak provided all of the names. Valdez remained an obstructionist.

How much information would a Gov. Valdez keep from Texans?

Though the questions are many, there is only one conclusion. Sheriff Lupe Valdez is not qualified to be the governor of Texas.

The dead body of Joseph Hutcheson is all the evidence you need.

Jeff Hood is a Baptist pastor, activist and author in Dallas. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News. Website:

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