Central Texas jail administrator arrested
Hill County's jail administrator who's accused of ordering a detention officer to shred documents is free on bond after her arrest on a warrant stemming from a Texas Rangers investigation.
The April 11 arrest warrant for Hill County Jail Capt. Sherry “Diann” Hammer, 68, charges tampering with government records, a class A misdemeanor.
According to the complaint Hammer called a detention officer into her office on March 15, handed her a stack of documents, and instructed her to shred them.
As the detention officer was following orders to shred the documents, she noticed they were request forms filled out by an inmate, the complaint says.
"(The detention officer) did not believe this was legal so she removed a piece of paper from the printer and put it in the shredder to make Captain Hammer believe the documents had been shredded," the complaint says.
The detention officer provided the Texas Rangers with nine inmate request forms that weren’t shredded, and in a March 17 interview told the investigating Ranger that Hammer told her "these are just crazy men talking and the (Texas) Jail Standards Commission would not like them,” the complaint says.
The Ranger interviewed Hammer on March 18 and, according to the complaint, she told him she was only shredding copies of documents from her office because she was "getting ready to resign/retire, again."
Hammer also denied shredding or asking anyone to shred original documents the day of March 15, the complaint says, and she denied making the statement about the jail standards commission.
However, while reviewing jail video from that day, the investigator saw the detention officer walking out of Hammer's office with papers in hand.
In the video the detention officer is seen shredding blank paper from the printer and taking the other documents in her bag, the complaint says.
The Ranger later verified there were no other copies of the inmate request forms, although Hammer had told him the originals had been filed and stored, the complaint says.
"In summary, Captain Hammer removed original government documents (inmate request forms) from her office and instead of placing the forms in the inmate's file, she directed a subordinate to destroy the documents by shredding them," the investigator said in the complaint.
"Additionally, there were no copies of the documents retained anywhere else."
Hammer's Fort Worth based attorney denies the claims.
"There were no original documents, only copies," said Randall Moore. "Tampering with a government record is the most misused criminal offense by district attorneys when it comes to Texas Police officers."
Moore said there's much more behind this case than what's on the surface, confirming the detention officer in the complaint is Hammer's relative.
"There's a lot of things that are going to come out of this case that will reveal that my client didn't do anything wrong, a lot of politics and other things that are going on behind the scenes," said Moore. "I think there are a lot of problems with that administration and they should be focusing on those, not on something that didn't happen."
Hill County Sheriff’s Office officials said Hammer was placed on paid administrative leave during the Rangers investigation.
Officials declined to comment on Hammer’s status, saying that an internal investigation is ongoing.
Chief Hill County Deputy Scott Robinson says Sgt. Kyle Cox is serving as acting jail administrator in Hammer's absence.
"We have people currently in place, the assistant jail administrator, helping him (Cox) in that role," Robinson said.
"Our organization has continued to function with minimal impact."
To avoid the awkward situation of being booked into her own jail, Hammer's attorney confirmed she went to the Parker County Jail Tuesday to be processed.
"I think it's an unfortunate situation," said Moore. "I'm confident she's going to be cleared once we get into what really happened."
In mid-March, KWTX broke a story about a Hill County jail inmate who stabbed another inmate with whom he'd had a verbal and physical altercation several months earlier.
Officials say the current criminal investigation is not directly related to the inmate stabbing.
"While looking at this, other things came to light, which is why we asked the Rangers to assist," said Robinson.