3 Brownwood correctional officers return to work after TDCJ investigation
BROWNWOOD, Texas —
Three correctional officers have returned to work this week following an internal investigation that accused one of them of using excessive force on an inmate.
Documents obtained through an open records request from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice showed in March that the agency recommended the dismissal of four correctional officers based at Brownwood's TR Havins Unit.
The employees recommended for dismissal were Lieutenant Daniel Denton, Stephen Vela, Javier Contreras and Craig Senkirik.
However, Denton, Contreras, and Senkirik were allowed to return to duty following mediation on Tuesday, according to the Director of Public Information for TDCJ, Jeremy Desel.
All three men were placed on probation for a year, while Vela quit his job altogether.
TDCJ records stated that Denton used "excessive or unnecessary force non-provoked” without causing serious injuries, while Vela, Contreras and Senkirik failed to report the usage of excessive force by Denton.
However, a former correctional officer at the TR Havins Unit with knowledge of the situation spoke to KTXS News about the incident.
The person, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, stated that Denton wanted everyone to keep quiet and not report the incident, which put some employees in uncomfortable positions.
"They wanted everybody to continue with the lie, that way they could sweep it under the rug and get on with our daily lives because we got so much crap going on, which is true," the person said.
Denton kept his job as a lieutenant, which bothered the former correctional officer.
"You don't drag everyone through the mud just to put that person that caused the problem in the same position," the source said.
Desel said that the reason that TDCJ investigated all four of the correctional officers and disciplined them is because anyone who sees or hears of an excessive force incident is required to report it.
TDCJ confirmed to KTXS News that there were actually five correctional officers involved in the incident, but the fifth person quit before an administrative investigation could begin.
KTXS News has filed an open records request with TDCJ to learn the details of the agency's investigation into the correctional officers.