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Waco police officer arrested on assault charge, accused of grabbing suspect by throat

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GeorgeNeville

Neville

Veteran Waco police Officer George Neville was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge Thursday, accused of assaulting a man he was arresting after a traffic stop in early May, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Neville, an 11-year commissioned officer with the Waco Police Department, turned himself in to McLennan County Jail on Thursday afternoon after Waco police detectives issued a Class A misdemeanor assault warrant for his arrest.

“As officers, we are sworn to enforce and uphold the law. The behavior which resulted in the arrest of this officer is unacceptable,” Waco Interim Police Chief Frank Gentsch said in a statement. “It saddens me that the public trust has been violated. We are committed to professional policing and will hold our officers to the highest standards.”

Officers Kevin Spicer and Adam Beseda stopped a vehicle, driven by Qualon Deshon Weaver, 35, for a traffic violation on May 4 near the intersection of J.J. Flewellen Road and Herring Avenue, police records show. During the stop, officers reportedly observed Weaver moving in the car before he pulled over, appearing to conceal something before he eventually stopped. Weaver came to a stop, then continued driving slowly multiple times before pulling over, according to records.

Nearly 10 grams of marijuana was later found in his vehicle, an affidavit for Weaver’s arrest states.

Neville, 33, arrived with another officer to assist with the arrest when the assault allegedly occurred. Police reports stated that Weaver was handcuffed when Neville grabbed Weaver around his neck after the two exchanged words with each other, and the other two officers watched the scuffle, Weaver’s attorney, Jason Darling, said.

“We met with police two weeks ago, so this is a mixed-emotions type of day, because obviously you don’t want to see law enforcement get arrested when you hope they will uphold the law and protect citizens’ rights,” Darling said. “But you have to praise the investigation that was done by the Waco Police Department in having to make a tough decision and hold that officer accountable for his actions.”

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Darling reviewed dash camera video of the incident and said it shows Neville calling Weaver a dumbass, then Weaver returning the same insult. At the point, Darling said Neville can be seen grabbing Weaver around his throat before he is placed inside a police car. Weaver was making no attempt to run or tamper with evidence when Neville grabbed him by the throat, according to the warrant for Neville’s arrest.

“There really is no excuse for it,” Darling said. “My client felt like race was the reason he was pulled over, but I am not sure if race was a factor in (the alleged assault). It might have just been an issue of anger. Obviously race could play an issue in this, but with what is going on in the country, you have to pay attention to all these issues, but I don’t know if we can say if (the assault was racially-motivated).”

Weaver, who is black, was arrested on charges of evading arrest in a motor vehicle and possession of marijuana. He later filed a complaint against all three officers in June. In the department’s inquiry, Swanton said Neville and Beseda were placed on administrative leave on June 9. Spicer was placed on administrative leave June 16 as the investigation progressed.

All the other officers involved in the incident were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but internal investigations by the Professional Standards and Conduct Unit remain ongoing, Swanton said.

“The grabbing of Qualon Weaver’s throat by Officer Neville was not necessary as Qualon Weaver only yelled at Officer Neville,” Neville’s arrest affidavit states. “Qualon Weaver was not assaulting or resisting the officers at that point and was not attempting to destroy evidence.”

Possible lawsuit

Darling said he plans to wait for developments in Neville’s criminal case before deciding whether to file a civil lawsuit against the officers or the department. He will most likely file a civil lawsuit at a later date on Weaver’s behalf, he said.

The Tribune-Herald requested the in-car video and other public documents related to Weaver’s arrest and the alleged assault when the department announced its investigation of Neville. The Waco Police Department is seeking a Texas Attorney General’s opinion on whether releasing the video and other documents would unduly interfere with its investigations. No response to the request had been returned by Thursday.

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