Carruth shooting brings up questions of preferential treatment and maybe even racial disparities lawyers say

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Special note: Lubbock Police provided a statement after this story was first published. See below.

LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock lawyers raised questions Wednesday in a conversation with EverythingLubbock.com. Is it justice when the face of an innocent person is plastered in the media prior to a not guilty verdict? Or what about someone who spends a year and a half in Lubbock County Detention Center, unable to pay bond before having his case later dismissed? The lawyers said the damages last a lifetime.

KLBK and KAMC News spoke with several attorneys this week about the nuances of Chad Read’s violent death.

Ordinarily, when someone in Lubbock is shot, “There’s officers on the scene that person gets arrested, and then they sort it out later,” criminal defense attorney Dwight McDonald said Wednesday. “They continue their investigation while that person either has to make a bond and get out, or that person remains in the detention center until the investigation is complete, and a charging decision is made.”

This is the way McDonald has seen the Lubbock Police Department handle many cases over the last 28 years of his practice.

21-year-old Jaquavius Williams, a Black man, was one of those individuals who Mr. McDonald said did not receive the same treatment Carruth has received so far in his investigation. Earlier this month, Williams was arrested by LPD in connection with a shooting at a downtown Lubbock convenience store.

According to LPD’s report, a customer aggressively confronted Williams at the Stripes at 403 Avenue Q on November 24. Williams left the store and returned with a handgun, telling the customer to leave the property. The customer refused and stepped toward Williams, raising his hands in a fist toward him but never striking him. Williams shot, causing serious bodily injury. He was arrested and charged with aggravated assault that night.

Mr. McDonald says the incident sounds strikingly similar to the encounter between Chad Read and Kyle Carruth.

“Its fact pattern was very similar. Carruth didn’t get arrested, has never been arrested, never been charged, and his name has never been released by law enforcement,” McDonald noticed. “This other individual was arrested that night. His name was released. He was on television the next day … I don’t understand what the difference was – other than one of them is named Carruth and is engaged or married to a district judge, and the other one is not,” McDonald guessed.

Criminal defense attorney Rusty Gunter said last week that Carruth’s treatment should be a standard operating procedure.

“This is by far the better way to conduct an investigation [instead of] just making an arrest and seeing where the investigation leads after the fact,” Gunter told KLBK and KAMC News.

“There are people throughout the country who say that, obviously, we have two different criminal justice systems. One for those who are white and wealthy, and then one for everybody else,” McDonald explained.

McDonald said the way LPD has gone about Carruth’s case versus other cases “certainly lends itself to that conversation of: is there a racial or socioeconomic disparity?”

“It does cause me some concern because as a practitioner for 28 years who has done nothing but criminal defense work, I have put a great deal of belief and trust in this system,” McDonald said, adding, “It troubles me to see some of the discrepancies and try to navigate why?”

Gunter has been perplexed by these same questions. He explained, “If I represent that next person, what I’m screaming for is I want the same treatment.”

“There’s a reason that Lady Justice wears a blindfold. This system is not supposed to take into consideration your race, gender, socioeconomic status or political status,” McDonald shared. With a disappointed expression, he added, “Unfortunately, that isn’t always true.”

After this story was first published, Lubbock Police provided the following statement:

“While it is unique that the [Chad Read] case has been passed on to the Texas Attorney General’s Office due to the Lubbock County DA’s recusal, there is nothing unique about LPD’s investigative process of this case. As previously stated, pursuant to Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code, also known as the Public Information Act, suspect information cannot be released unless there is a direct threat to the public, or, unless an arrest has been made. Each case investigated by the Lubbock Police Department is based upon the facts present at the time, and actions taken by law enforcement are dependent upon the details of the case.”

Clarification: Police have not released the name of William “Kyle” Carruth in relation to the shooting of Chad Read. (The name was instead reported in civil court documents.) The explanation was that he was not charged with a crime. That is consistent with both state law and police procedure. The name of Jaquavius Williams was released shortly after he was charged with a crime. That also is consistent with state law and police procedure.

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