Mayor, retired police officer weigh in on body cam video of 2022 Bellmead incident

Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 6:36 PM CDT
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BELLMEAD, Texas (KWTX) - Mayor Travis Gibson met with the Bellmead Police Chief Shawn Myatt Tuesday morning to discuss recently released body camera video. KWTX obtained hours worth of video through an open records request over the weekend.

Chief Myatt is currently investigating whether a police officer violated department policies when he placed his hands around the neck of a suspect in the back of a police cruiser on July 7 2022.

”I’ve got full confidence and faith in Chief Meyers that he will do a full investigation and get down to the bottom of it and it’s more administrative than criminal,” Mayor Gibson said.

This all started when the suspect, Richard Oswald Jr., led officers on a 19 mile car chase from Bellmead to Mart. Officers first approached him in Bellmead after getting a call that he was pointing a gun at someone.

Police say the chase eventually ended when Oswald’s car broke down in Mart. He was then transported to a patrol unit and questioned where the event in question transpired.

The body camera video shows that moments before the officer placed his hands on the suspect the suspect lunged himself towards the police officer.

Greg Fremin spent 34 years with the Houston Police Department before retiring and currently works as the internship director at the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University. He watched the body cam video and said he has some questions about the officer’s actions.

”Unless the suspect was trying to bite or spit I have deep concerns with choking or placing concerns around a suspect’s neck,” Fremin said.

Bellmead police chief Myatt said in a previous statement that the video “does not appear to show the suspect in a choke hold.”

”If this case came before me as a police commander, he choked him,” Fremin said. “Chokehold, choke grip, choke grasp, whatever you want to call it, it’s just a matter of semantics.”

The City of Bellmead has released two of the body camera videos to the public. But Mayor Gibson said he doesn’t want what happened to define the department.

“We don’t want one incident to taint the image or the integrity of the police department, but at the same time we hope the individual will be held accountable,” Gibson said.

The suspect, Oswald, did plead guilty to evading police and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Mayor Gibson said that it’s likely that the Bellmead City Council will discuss this at their next City Council next Tuesday. He also added that since this is still an open investigation he couldn’t specify whether anyone at the department has been placed on leave.