Battle continues over records of Perkins’ arrest

Battle continues over records of Perkins’ arrest

A fight to make public a video showing the arrest of NBA star Kendrick Perkins was given a boost this past week when the Texas attorney general ruled March 20, 2012, in favor of The Examiner Newspaper and ordered the city to release information it has been fighting for months to keep secret and destroy – a move that prompted the newspaper to also seek a restraining order.

Perkins was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and public intoxication outside The Ticket Sports Bar on Aug.13, 2011. Immediately following his arrest, he hired an attorney and his former publicist said Perkins had been “drinking water” all night and was not intoxicated when he was taken into custody. Perkins also alleged that Beaumont officers hit him on his knees with police batons. According to police and sources at the scene, Perkins was cursing and fighting with officers and others and attempted to break free as his entourage tried to hold him back. At that point police took him into custody.

There were at least four police video cameras rolling at the time Perkins was taken into custody. Although not all of them have images of Perkins or the arrest, sources told the newspaper that on the audio Perkins can be heard acting in a belligerent manner toward the officers. A BPD sergeant at the scene stated in a press release, “There were approximately 50 people gathered around Perkins as he was attempting to fight the (club’s) manager. The crowd was able to push Perkins out the back door of the club where he stopped and continued to yell obscenities. Several officers attempted to quiet Perkins and to get him to leave the property. Perkins continued with the obscenities and was trying to fight several other people in the crowd who were apparently trying to help.”

The Examiner has fought to obtain records from the Perkins arrest but met continuous roadblocks put up by the city attorney’s office, which also dismissed the charges against Perkins. In January, a written request from the city attorney’s office was forwarded to the Texas attorney general seeking to withhold the information with the city having full knowledge that Perkins was now seeking to have his record expunged, which would cause all documents related to the case to be destroyed.

The newspaper filed a counter argument to the city’s with the state and received a ruling in its favor last Tuesday. However, because notice of the ruling was sent via the U.S. Postal Service, the newspaper was not aware it had won until this past Thursday – a day after Jefferson County Criminal District Judge Layne Walker signed an order to clear Perkins’ record, which goes into effect in 30 days.

Assistant city attorney Sharae Bassett, who drafted the city’s failed opposition to the Texas attorney general, bristled when she found out the attorney general had ruled against the city.

“I will have to talk to my boss (Tyrone Cooper, city attorney),” said Bassett. “We have an expungement now.”

Fearing the city would move forward with the destruction of the records in the case despite being told to release the information, the newspaper filed a petition in court and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the city because there is a question as to which order is superceding.

The TRO mandates the city to be in court on April 5 to present its reasons for not turning over the requested information in the case. It also orders the city to preserve the records.

“… The Court finds that the plaintiffs will be irreparably damaged if the city of Beaumont and the Beaumont Police Department are allowed to destroy the records at issue,” states the order. “It is therefore ordered that plaintiff’s motion for temporary restraining order and motion for temporary injunction pursuant to (Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Sect. 5, Rules 680 and 681) is hereby granted.”

Questionable conduct

During its investigation of the actions of the city attorney’s office, The Examiner uncovered several instances of possible impropriety, including information contained in court records alleging Cooper wanted to see the charges against Perkins “go away.”

The revelation was discovered in a court document provided by a source because the city has refused to turn over any documents in the case.

“Movant (Perkins’ first attorney, Langston Adams) accompanied by Mr. Perkins met with City Attorney Tyrone Cooper and assistant city attorney Sharae Bassett,” states a document titled “Motion to Withdraw as Counsel” filed on Sept. 8, 2011. “At the outset of such meeting Mr. Cooper indicated that he wanted to see the charges against Mr. Perkins go away. However, the public intoxication and disorderly conduct charges against Mr. Perkins have yet to be dismissed. At such meeting movant and Mr. Perkins were allowed to view three of four DVD’s capturing audio and video of Mr. Perkins and the events leading to his arrest. Such recordings were made on the motor vehicle recording devices of the Beaumont Police Department.”

The document was filed by Adams.

Adams said the reason he was filing his motion to withdraw as counsel was because four days after he and Perkins met with Cooper, he was told that his services were no longer needed.

“Why would he need me if the case was going to go away,” Adams said.

After Adams filed the motion, Cooper sought to have sanctions brought against him for letting it be known Cooper wanted the case to “go away.”

When asked for comment in a previous story, Cooper became defensive about being asked why he was trying so hard to keep the Perkins videos and other information from being seen by the public. He also lied, saying that Adams had requested a gag order in the case.

“We are not withholding (anything),” Cooper said. “We had a gag order. It was requested by Langston Adams when he was still on the case.”

When asked about the gag order, municipal court judge Craig Lively said he entered the order sua sponte, meaning on his own and not at Adams’ request.

Since then Cooper has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the case and since the TRO was sought, he has not answered phone calls from the newspaper.As for Bassett, aside from being one of the 3,500 “friends” on Kendrick Perkins’ Facebook page, she is also a Facebook “friend” of Sean Samuel, who is representing Perkins in the expungement case — a case where the city took no position and did not object to the criminal charges being removed from Perkins’ record. But during a search of her Facebook page the newspaper discovered a photo showing Samuel and Bassett snuggled together on a couch.

The photo, from Feb. 12, 2009, shows Bassett with her leg over Samuel’s leg and him with his arm around her. Samuel is the son of city councilman Audwin Samuel. The city attorney works for the city council.

The newspaper made numerous attempts to obtain an explanation from Bassett regarding the photo but she never called back. Likewise, a message with Samuel was not returned.

A request for comment from the State Bar of Texas on the rules of conduct for attorneys had not been received as of press time.