Bryan officers cleared in custody death


Eagle Staff Writer

A Brazos County grand jury Thursday cleared three Bryan police officers of any wrongdoing in the death of a man being held in their custody last year.

Officers Rob Johnson, Jason Badgett and Scott Donaldson were no-billed in the death of 26-year-old Bryant Keith Turner, who stopped breathing in the back of a patrol car Sept. 6. An earlier internal investigation by the police department also exonerated the three.

Johnson, Badgett and Donaldson had not been charged with a crime, but bringing such cases to a grand jury is standard procedure, authorities said.

The officers, who arrested Turner for running through traffic and opening the doors of passing cars on South College Avenue, tried to perform CPR on the man after they noticed he was not breathing. Turner later was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Regional Health Center.

An autopsy performed on Turner showed the Bryan man died from a combination of cocaine, the stress of getting arrested and a pre-existing heart condition. Earlier this month, Bryan Police Chief Mike Strope said a five-month investigation by his department found that the officers followed protocol when arresting Turner.

The grand jury reached the same conclusion.

“It’s standard procedure for the DA’s office to present in-custody deaths to a grand jury so that 12 citizens unconnected with law enforcement can review the police conduct,” Brazos County District Attorney Bill Turner said Thursday. “The grand jury concluded that there was no wrongdoing.”

The grand jury did return indictments against 36 other individuals Thursday.

Among those indicted were a mother who authorities say forced her 7-year-old daughter out of their car at a busy intersection and a man accused of stabbing a woman in the leg with a nail file.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but indicates that a grand jury believes enough evidence exists to warrant a trial.

Janet Marie Peterson, 27, was indicted on one count of abandoning or endangering a child in imminent danger. The charge stems from a Dec. 11 incident in which police said Peterson ordered her screaming daughter to get out of the car and into rush-hour traffic at the intersection of East 29th Street and East Villa Maria Road.

Peterson was arrested after telling officers “she’d had it” with her daughter and they could take her because she “couldn’t do anything else with her,” according to court records.

Larry Donell Moody, 53, was indicted on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Moody is accused in court records of stabbing a woman in the leg with a nail file during an argument.

When the woman returned to the apartment after being stabbed, Moody threatened her with a knife and a screwdriver, a police affidavit states.

Moody told police he accidentally stabbed the woman while helping her up. He said he was holding the knife as he talked with his hands while cooking, records state.

• Christopher Ferrell’s e-mail address is cferrell@theeagle.com.

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