Crime-Spree Friendly Bail System in Dallas leads to Death of Dallas Cop, Two others in Critical Condition

Repeat offender out on free “Personal Recognizance Bond” kills Dallas Police Officer in shooting leaving another cop and loss-prevention officer in critical condition.  Now, activists want more of the same.

May 9 2018


Dallas, TX – There has been a lot of discussion about the recent shooting case of Armando Luis Juarez, 29, who shot two Dallas Police Officers and a loss-prevention employee at a Home Depot, killing one of the officers and leaving the other two victims in critical condition.  Anytime we have a person with two recent felony charges pending and a history of arrests, we have to ask ourselves, how did this person get out of jail in the first place?

Rodriguez was indicted for auto theft when officers were called to a disturbance in December, 2017 where the victims of the auto theft were sitting on Mr. Juarez, holding him down until officers could arrive (SID # TX06958101).  In that case, Mr. Juarez posted the bond amount of $1,500 using a bail bond agent, despite swearing in the case that he had no income and no assets.

Armando Juarez

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Mr. Juarez was then re-arrested in January, 2018, again for car theft.  (LAI No. 1047076).  While he was in custody, the bail bond agent requested to be released from the first bond since Mr. Juarez was in custody and had violated the conditions of his bond.  This should have been the first sign for Judge Dominique Collins, who was assigned the case, as to what was going on with Mr. Juarez.

When Mr. Juarez went before the Magistrate on both of the cases for a new bond hearing, the Magistrate set the bond at $50,000.  That would have been a significant bond for Mr. Juarez to post, but in light of his prior felony conviction and prior failures to appear in court, along with two felony theft charges, that would seem to be an appropriate bail.

 

Judge Dominique Collins, Dallas District Court No. 4

Judge Dominique Collins then did the unthinkable and unimaginable in this case.  When Mr. Juarez stole the first car, his bond was set at $1,500.  When Mr. Juarez then stole a second car while out on bond in the first case, the Magistrate set his bond at $50,000.  What did Judge Collins do?  She gave Mr. Juarez a get-out-of-jail-free card – otherwise known as a “personal recognizance bond” or “PR Bond” in Texas.  The only condition of his release – random drug testing.

Unaccountable and Reckless

Judge Collins didn’t just give Juarez one get-out-of-jail-free “PR Bond”—she gave him two, one for each of the car thefts.  Judge Collins releasing Juarez on a PR Bond did not happen because he was “innocent” either.  Astoundingly, she did that after he plead guilty to stealing the two cars and gave him the get-out-of-jail-free “PR Bond” assuming he would then show up to be sentenced – despite having already failed to appear multiple times.

It was now obvious to Mr. Juarez that if he failed to show up to be sentenced nothing would happen.  In fact, last time he failed to meet his conditions and stole a second car, his bond was lowered by the judge.  Judge Collins essentially told Mr. Juarez not to worry—she would make it easy on him because he claimed he was poor.

PR Bond and the death of a Dallas Police Officer

Juarez subsequently failed to appear for sentencing on February 2, 2018 and a warrant was again issued for his arrest.

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, Juarez was detained by an off-duty police officer working at a Home Depot near U.S. Highway 75 and Forest Lane.  The off-duty officer, along with a loss-prevention employee, called for assistance with Juarez while he was detained.  When police officers responded to the store, Juarez “produced a handgun” and shot the two responding officers and the store’s loss-prevention officer.

 

Photo released by police of Armando Juarez, 26 – his left pocket bulging with what police suspect was the firearm used in the incident

After a five-hour manhunt, that included a high-speed chase, Juarez was taken into custody.

The three victims were critically wounded and taken to a nearby hospital where one of the responding officers, Officer Rogelio Santander, died at 8:11 am Wednesday morning. The second responding officer, Crystal Almeida, and the loss-prevention security guard, Scott Painter, remained in critical condition after surgery.

 

Officer Crystal Almeida (left), and Officer Rogelio Santander

Local newspapers reporting on the incident seem to gloss over the shooters release condition and criminal history prior to the shooting.  Juarez was released on nothing more than a “promise to appear” under the Dallas crime-friendly bail system with no monitoring requirements whatsoever.  His only condition?  Submit to random drug testing.

Juarez has now been charged with Capital Murder, three counts of aggravated assault against a public servant, aggravated assault in retaliation, and two counts of forgery of a financial instrument.  Juarez is now being held on $4,110,000 bond.

Armando Juarez – A history of “catch and release”

  • 3/24/07 – Juarez was arrested for Failure to Identify as a Fugitive. Juarez failed to appear for his court date.
  • 8/20/07 – Juarez was arrested during a traffic stop for the open warrant and also charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance – Cocaine. Juarez posted $500 cash bail for the Failure to Identify as a Fugitive and a $1,500 surety bond for the possession charge.  Juarez subsequently failed to appear on the Failure to Identify as a Fugitive charge.
  • 5/20/08 – After failing to appear on the possession charge (which was posted by a surety bail agent), fugitive recovery agents were deployed by the surety and he was rearrested on 5/20/08.
  • 5/22/08 – Juarez spent two days in jail and the court granted Juarez time served with no probation or fine. Juarez was released.
  • April, 2007 – January 2017 – Juarez was ticketed for 17 various offenses by the Dallas Police Department which led to 3 additional arrests during that time period.
  • 12/2/17 – Juarez was arrested for felony theft of property of $2,500 – $30,000. Juarez was alleged to have stolen a truck.
  • 12/9/17 – Juarez was released after family/friends posted a $1,500 surety bond.
  • 1/3/18 – Juarez was arrested again for another theft of property charge. At that time, the agent on the surety bond, who was actively monitoring Juarez, requested a detainer from the court due to violating his conditions of release.  Bond was set for both theft charges, both felony charges that occurred within a month of each other, at $50,000.  Juarez plead guilty on both charges and, after spending 14 days in jail, Judge Dominque Collins released Juarez on a PR Bond with no oversight until sentencing – released on simply a “promise” to appear.
  • 2/2/18 – Juarez failed to appear for sentencing and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Juarez remained a fugitive until the Home Depot encounter where he shot two Dallas Police Officers and a loss-prevention employee, killing one of the officers and leaving the other two victims in critical condition.

“Catch and Release” and the False Narrative of Bail Reform

Bail reform advocates are telling people in Dallas County and in Texas that we need to make it easier for poor, indigent and repeat criminals like Mr. Juarez to get out of jail for free.

Even now, as Officer Crystal Almeida and Home Depot loss-prevention employee Scott Painter fight for their lives, Justice Nathan Hecht is preparing to deploy his new “secret” risk assessment computer, the PraisTX system.  Removing judicial discretion in favor of a “black box” algorithm recommendation has proven to be a costly experiment around the country.  Recently, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez went so far as to publicly warn Utah of their plans to implement a computer risk assessment (video), calling it a “catch and release revolving door criminal justice system.”

“New Mexico implemented this pretrial risk assessment tool to devastating results I encourage those in Utah to be very skeptical of voices calling for misleading devices that would result in letting dangerous criminals back out on the street to terrorize communities.” – Governor Susana Martinez (NM)

Justice Hecht has apparently turned a blind eye to the results of Harris County’s experimentation of unverified mass indigent release – a program that began on June 6, 2017 and is yielding a staggering 44.75% failure to appear rate for those released on unsecured bond.

The tragic event in Dallas is yet another reminder of just how dangerous protecting the public can be – and how “soft on crime” policies can lead to deadly results.

In striving for a fair and just bail and pretrial release system, we must also balance the issue of public safety and the rights and lives of victims in the process.  Pretrial release is not a “one size fits all issue” and courts have ruled there is no such thing as an “affordable bond.”

Although we cannot rewind the clock and know for sure what would have occurred had Mr. Juarez’ bail stayed at $50,000, we do know for sure that Mr. Juarez would have had to enlist the help of his family and friends to help him secure his release.  With surety bail, this collective decision between surety agent and family and friends puts the burden on those that know Mr. Juarez the best to determine if Mr. Juarez should be released and will adhere to the conditions set by the court.  It’s not about money – it’s about risk and public safety.  With Mr. Juarez’ history of failing to appear and repeat arrests, it is reasonable to assume that even family and friends would have been reluctant to take that risk – a risk for them, a risk for the agent, and a risk to public safety.

One thing is certain – Justice Nathan Hecht’s new “secret” risk computer, the PraisTX system, would have certainly sent Mr. Juarez packing with his computer issued “get out of jail free” card.


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