As the Dallas community reflects on the tragic murder of two hospital employees gunned down by a parolee while at work at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, many, including Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia, are directing their outrage at what they call a “broken” criminal justice system.
The two employees, nurses in the maternity ward, were shot and killed by 30-year-old convicted criminal Nestor Hernandez. Methodist Health System police soon intervened and shot Hernandez, injuring and incapacitating him.
Hernandez was currently on parole for a 2015 aggravated robbery conviction, for which he received a jail sentence of 8 years, and was wearing an active, court-ordered ankle monitor at the time of the shooting.
“Most prisoners in Texas become eligible for parole before their sentence ends. Once eligible, inmates can be released on parole,” according to the Shouse California Law Group. “After release, the inmate is put on community supervision. People can then spend the rest of their sentence on parole. If the terms of parole are violated, however, the parolee can be sent back to prison.”
Hernandez had been arrested twice in 2022 while out on parole. Both times he was released back into the public.
After news broke of Hernandez’s killings, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia tweeted, “Our hearts @DallasPD go out to the those affected by this tragedy, I’m outraged along with our community, at the lack of accountability, and the travesty of the fact that under this broken system, we give violent criminals more chances, than our victims.”
“The pendulum has swung too far,” his tweet concluded.
Our hearts @DallasPD go out to the those affected by this tragedy,I’m outraged along with our community,at the lack of accountability,and the travesty of the fact that under this broken system,we give violent criminals more chances,than our victims.The pendulum has swung too far. https://t.co/zwJp3cMasv
— Eddie Garcia (@DPDChiefGarcia) October 23, 2022
Meanwhile, District Attorney John Creuzot tweeted out a statement on his official office account that began, “I remain sickened, stunned, and heartbroken by the senseless shooting at Methodist Hospital,” but quickly turned to the defensive.
“Despite reports to the contrary, parole decisions and conditions are not made by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office or any judicial officer of Dallas County but by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles,” Creuzot said in his statement.
Dallas County Judge, and fellow Democrat, Clay Jenkins retweeted Creuzot’s official statement and used the opportunity to take a shot at Republican Governor Greg Abbott, stating, “Decision to release the suspect on ankle monitor parole was made by Texas Board of Pardons and Parole appointed by Gov. Abbott, not by the any Assistant DA or Judge in Dallas County.”
However, despite these claims by Creuzot and Jenkins, prosecuting attorneys do have a role in parole decisions made by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP). Since Hernandez’s original conviction for aggravated assault occurred in Dallas County, when he was up for review by TBPP for potential release in October 2021, Creuzot’s office would have been contacted to participate in the hearing.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) in a FAQ about parole, “When an offender enters the parole review process and prior to an offender’s scheduled release, the Parole Division notifies the trial officials (district judge, sheriff, and prosecuting attorney) of the county of conviction, the police chiefs of the county of conviction, the county in which the offense was committed (in cases with a change of venue), and the county to which the offender is to be released.”
“These parties are notified in advance of the scheduled parole review in order to solicit their comments regarding the individual’s release,” TDCJ continues.
The website goes on to say, “All correspondence regarding an offender, whether written in support of or in opposition to parole, will be added to the offender’s permanent file and will be available to the parole panel at the time of parole deliberations… Each objection is carefully weighed on its own merits.”
The motivation for Creuzot’s defensive statement is likely related to the fact that his Republican challenger, Faith Johnson, recently dubbed the sitting-District Attorney ‘Let-em-Go’ Creuzot because of his stance on ending so-called “mass incarceration” through not prosecuting some crimes and his permissive stance on releasing of criminals or people awaiting trial.
The Dallas Express reached out to Creuzot’s office and inquired whether he participated in the parole hearings for Hernandez and, if so, how. As of the writing of this article, we have not heard back.
While Creuzot and Jenkins point fingers at Abbott, Dallas Police Chief Garcia did not pull any punches with his criticism of where he felt blame resides.
“This is a tragedy, and an abhorrent failure of our criminal justice system,” Garcia tweeted.