Doing the right thing because it’s right

The attempt by the Beaumont City Attorney’s office to protect Kendrick Perkins’ reputation rather than stand by the Beaumont Police Department is appalling. A full investigation would, at worst, reveal illegal actions and, at best, serious impropriety.

Perkins, a home grown NBA player, was arrested last summer by the Beaumont Police Department for disorderly conduct and public intoxication after as many as a half dozen units were dispatched to a disturbance at a local night club. After numerous attempts to settle the situation in a calm and amicable manner, Perkins’ action forced officers to arrest him.

It’s normal for a defense attorney to work every possible legal angle to get a client out of trouble, but almost unprecedented is for City Attorney Tyrone Cooper, the official prosecuting authority for the city in misdemeanor matters, to tell the defendant’s attorney that he wants a case to just “go away.” That is what happened in the Perkins case — Cooper wanted it to “go away.” This, of course, pleased Perkins, but what followed was an attempt to keep the public from knowing any of the facts of the arrest.

Cooper fought to keep secret the documents and videos from the arrest by seeking the attorney general’s opinion to delay making them public, knowing all along that the attorney general would rule to release them under the Texas Public Information Act but not until after Perkins could have his criminal record expunged, which would make the ruling moot. Perkins’ lawyer had already begun the procedures to have his client’s record erased.

Criminal District Court Judge Layne Walker granted the expungement but reversed his decision after becoming aware of The Examiner’s quest to receive the information because there appeared to be a joint effort between the city attorney’s office and the defense attorney to make the case “go away.”

In a final hearing on Wednesday, April 18, Walker stated he would not have his court pulled into a cloud of suspicion and that he wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety. He threw out his original expungement order sua sponte (of his own motion) and returned the requested documents and videos to the city.

Sunshine, transparency, whatever you characterize it — Walker did the right thing, and we applaud him. Now the city needs to follow the law and provide the information to The Examiner as it should have when first requested.

As for the city attorney, the Beaumont City Council needs to protect our city and its reputation and fire Tyrone Cooper immediately.