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Dallas Grand Jury reviews Sept. 2014 in-custody death - Clears officers.

September 1, 2016

Today a Dallas County Grand Jury recommended that no charges be filed against five University Park police officers who were involved in an incident in September 2014 that resulted in an in-custody death.  Prior to the Grand Jury’s decision the Texas Rangers conducted an independent investigation of the incident and presented their findings to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in January 2015.
 
Incident Background
 
On September, 23, 2014 at 12:43 a.m. the University Park police officers responded to a suspicious activity call in the 3900 block of Lovers Lane.  An alarm monitoring company reported that a white male was seen on a surveillance camera outside a gated residence.  The alarm company reported that the man was seen on camera leaving the location on foot, walking to the west.  The first UPPD officer to arrive on on-scene spotted the man, later identified as Mr. Thomas Klessig, and tried to talk with him.  Mr. Klessig was uncooperative.  He pushed the officer to the ground and started running.  A second UPPD officer arrived, and both officers followed Mr. Klessig on foot.  The officers stopped Mr. Klessig a short distance away in the 4000 block of Amherst.  At this point, as three other UPPD officers arrived on scene, Mr. Klessig was repeatedly told to place himself on the ground and officers advised him that he was under arrest.  Mr. Klessig refused those commands and resisted with officers as they tried to place him in handcuffs.  During the struggle, officers used pepper spray on Mr. Klessig, aiming at his upper torso and face.  The pepper spray was not effective.  Officers also used baton strikes to his lower legs, that effort was also ineffective.  Eight minutes after the struggle began, officers were able to place him in handcuffs.  Mr. Klessig continued to struggle even after being handcuffed.  He tried repeatedly to raise up, making it difficult for the officer who was holding him in place to maintain control.  Following departmental policy, because pepper spray was used, officers called UPFD paramedics to the scene.  After paramedics arrived on scene, and as the paramedics were speaking with Mr. Klessig, he suddenly stopped breathing.  CPR was immediately performed by paramedics, with assistance from officers.  As emergency treatment continued, Mr. Klessig was transported by ambulance to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.  At 2:25 a.m. officers were notified that he was deceased.  Shortly after receiving word of Mr. Klessig’s death, the department contacted the Texas Rangers.  That agency sent an investigator to the scene that same morning to begin an independent review of the incident.
 
UPPD internal review on Use-of-Force
 
In connection with this incident, the University Park Police Department also conducted an internal review of its Use-of-Force policy.  The review was performed by the department’s Office of Professional Standards.  That review, completed in March 2015, found that each of the officers involved in this incident acted within the guidelines of the policy and used the minimum amount of force that was needed to achieve the arrest.
 
Officers involved in the incident
 
  • Patrol Officer Victor Velasquez – 33 years of service with UPPD
  • Patrol Officer Eric Walden – 21 years of service with UPPD
  • Patrol Officer Brandon Sinclair – 14 years of service with UPPD (Retired Dec. 2015)
  • Patrol Officer Curtis Fortner – 14 years of service with UPPD
  • Patrol Officer Jonathan Ingelido – 12 years of service with UPPD