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Ex Williamson County Sheriff's Deputy Who Violently Detained Domestic Violence Victim Charged With Use Of Force

A photo of the Williamson County Sheriff's office
Michael Minasi
A former Williamson County deputy was charged with use of excessive force in connection with a September 2019 incident in which he violently detained a woman during a domestic disturbance call.

A former Williamson County sheriff's deputy has been charged with excessive use of force after violently detaining a domestic violence victim in 2019.

Williamson County detectives issued two warrants Monday for Lorenzo Hernandez Jr. for oppression and assault. Hernandez turned himself in to the Williamson County Jail and was released the same day.

Hernandez is a former detective with the Williamson County Sheriff's office. His charges stem from a September 2019 domestic disturbance call to which he responded while working as a patrol deputy.

Body camera video shows that when officers arrived to the address of the reported incident, a woman responded and told them she didn't want them to go in. The footage shows that Hernandez at one point grabbed the woman by the throat and shoved her against the wall. He then proceeded to search her apartment.

Hernandez resigned from the Williamson County Sheriff’s office in January.

Williamson County Sheriff Mike Gleason said at a press conference Monday that Hernandez is also named in other ongoing litigation alleging excessive use of force, including the case of Midland resident Ramsey Mitchell.

Mitchell claims Williamson County deputies assaulted him in June 2019 following a traffic stop. Mitchell filed a lawsuit againstHernandez and the county earlier this month.

The sheriff's office filed Monday's charges against Hernandez directly, rather than through a grand jury. Gleason said that's because the video was sufficient evidence to move forward and because he hopes the arrest will show the woman in the video that his office is taking the case seriously.

Gleason said she has refused to take part in the investigation thus far.

"We are hoping by the arrests today will be a symbolic olive branch to her that we are serious about the way we treat domestic violence victims in this county and we will move forward," Gleason said. "Hopefully, this will be the catalyst to get her cooperation to come forward, since she knows that we're serious about prosecuting this officer."

Two other former Williamson County deputies were indicted by a Travis County grand jury in March. The deputies, James Johnson and Zachary Camden, were charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Javier Ambler II.

Ambler was a 40-year-old Black man who died in deputies' custody in March 2019. He was chased by deputies for 22 minutes after he failed to dim his headlights. Deputies used their Tasers on him multiple times while he repeatedly told them he had congestive heart failure and that he couldn't breathe. He died shortly after.

Former Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody and former general counsel Jason Nassour have both been indicted by Travis and Williamson County grand juries on evidence tampering chargesrelating to Ambler's death. The incident was captured on film by a crew from the reality television show "Live PD," which had a contract with the sheriff's office at that time.

Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick said Hernandez's case will still go to a grand jury.

"Many of our cases start with an arrest, with a warrant and end up in a grand jury," Dick said. "So it's not to say that there won't be due process (or that) there won't be more discussions with Mr. Hernandez's counsel. But I think it was an important statement to be made that this is unacceptable and this is not the way policing should be done."

Allyson Ortegon is a former Williamson County reporter for KUT.
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