Thursday morning Sulphur Springs Chief of Police Jay Sanders responded to a question asked during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. His response came following a meeting with City Manager Marc Maxwell. “Why are the three arresting officers still on duty while an investigation of the death of Chance Ross is being conducted?” This was the question asked by his brother, Chad Ross Tuesday night April 7th during the regular session of the Sulphur Springs City Council. Public comment, proclamations, and announcements, item 12 on the Council agenda, was moved to the fourth item for their consideration. The council provided center stage to Chad Ross, brother of the late Chance Ross. Chance Ross died while in custody of Sulphur Springs’ city police and the Hopkins County Sheriff’s deputies. He was incarcerated after having been tased repeatedly by officers during his arrest. Texas Ranger John Nance is currently investigating the cause of death, actions of the officers, and awaiting the result of an autopsy.
Chad Ross stated that the family had viewed video of his brother being brought into jail without a shirt and having burn marks on his shoulders that seemed to have been the result of his having been tased. Ross said his brother was handcuffed and escorted by three Sulphur Springs officers and that three county officers assisted those officers in stripping his brother of his pants and placing him in a cell.
City Manager Marc Maxwell and Mayor Freddie Taylor responded to Ross stating that the council could not respond while the investigation was being conducted. However, Maxwell assured the Ross family that he would meet with Chief of Police Jay Sanders Wednesday to discuss the matter of the arresting officers being on active duty at this time.
In his response given to KSST News, Chief Sanders stated that it is not an automatic response nor required, according to Sulphur Springs police policy, to place officers on administrative leave following an incident. He stated there were two things that he considered as he decided to not place on leave the three officers that arrested Chance Ross. Ross died during his incarceration in Hopkins County Jail. First, Sanders says that the internal investigation began shortly, within hours, after Ross’ death. Following the immediate investigation there was nothing that would lead the Chief to believe that the arresting officers did anything wrong. He stated that from information given him by Texas Ranger John Nance, who is also investigating the death, there is no evidence to contradict the earlier findings. Sanders said after viewing the video of available from the arrest and the incarceration, there is nothing shown to change his mind at this time. Sanders says he views the three officers as no danger to the community.
Sanders also said that he offered the officers time off and/or counseling during the decompression time that follows such an incident. None of the three chose to take time off.
Sanders says he hopes the autopsy will be completed, with the toxicology report, by the end of April. The JP that did the inquest was a Tyler JP and the body of Ross was sent to Tyler for the autopsy.
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