Nolan County grand jury clears Abilene officers in shooting death, indicts 12
A Nolan County grand jury recently cleared Abilene officers who were involved in the June standoff that ended with police shooting Michael "Micky" Berry to death.According to 32nd Judicial District ADA (Assistant District Attorney) Barrett Thomas, grand jurors did not indict the five Abilene police officers involved in the shooting.According to a news release issued by the Abilene Police Department, on June 26, 2014, the Abilene Police Department received a request for assistance from the Sweetwater Police Department. Sweetwater PD was in the midst of a felony theft investigation at a residence on West Broadway. During their investigation the suspect, Michael Berry, exited his residence and brandished a firearm in a threatening manner. These actions forced Sweetwater officers to take cover.Responding to the request for assistance, Abilene PD SWAT Team and Crisis Negotiators responded to the scene. Upon arrival, crisis negotiators began attempting to make contact with the suspect. The suspect refused to surrender after negotiators made in excess of 30 attempts to contact him.A search warrant was signed at approximately 3:20 p.m., authorizing entry into the suspect’s residence for the purposes of apprehension. A felony theft warrant for the suspect had already been issued previously. The SWAT team, utilizing the Bearcat for cover, approached the residence in an attempt to deploy tear gas that would hopefully cause the suspect to surrender.As the Bearcat began that portion of the operation, the suspect began firing at officers. Three officers returned fire striking the suspect and causing him to retreat back inside his residence. The ram on the Bearcat was utilized to remove a portion of the wall in the room where the suspect was hiding. This enabled officers to secure visual contact with the suspect and continue with verbal commands to drop his weapon. The suspect was spotted lying near a bed.Three officers dismounted the Bearcat and moved forward under the cover of a ballistic shield to arrest the suspect and administer medical attention. As those officers approached, the suspect rose up and again began shooting at the three dismounted officers, two of which returned fire. The suspect continued to resist and fight with officers but was taken into custody and transported to Rolling Plains Medical Center where he was later pronounced deceased. The Bearcat received multiple bullet strikes during this incident. No officers were injured. Consistent with standard practice for all officer involved shootings, the five officers involved were placed on administrative leave.The Nolan County Grand Jury did indicted 12 people this month. Five of those indictments were sealed. The following cases were true-billed:Jerry Dorman Wyatt, Jr. was indicted for burglary of a habitation, a second degree felony, enhanced to a first degree felony with two prior felony convictions — both for driving while intoxicated— one on March 13, 1998 in the 32nd Judicial District Court of Nolan County and one on April 1, 2008 in the 271st District Court of Wise County. His bond was set at $50,000.Jessica Marie Luna was indicted for aggravated assault date/family/house with a weapon, a first degree felony. Court documents state that Luna , on June 17, 2014, struck the victim in the chest and face and exhibited a deadly weapon — a knife — during the commission of the assault. Her bond was set at $25,000.Benjamin Lee Mendez was indicted for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second degree felony. Court documents state that on June 18, 2014, Mendez threatened the victim by putting a meat cleaver against her face. His bond was set at $15,000.Brian Edward Armstrong was indicted for unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a third degree felony. His bond was set at $10,000.Joseph Lynn Sargent was indicted for driving while intoxicated, a third degree felony. Prior to the offense on June 6, 2014, Sargent was convicted of two offenses relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated — once on Aug. 10, 2001 and once on March 21, 2003, both in the Taylor County Court at Law. His bond was set at $7,500.