DPS murder suspect reached plea deal with county in 2016

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Smith County officials have confirmed Dabrett Black of Lindale, charged with capital murder in the shooting of a DPS trooper on Thanksgiving Day, served just one year in jail for assaulting a county deputy in 2015 after reaching a plea agreement with the county district attorney’s office.

Matt Bingham, Smith County district attorney, acknowledged that Black agreed to a plea deal in the case offered by county prosecutor Jacob Putnam, which reduced the two felony charges of assault against a public servant to a misdemeanor which carried the one-year prison term.

The plea deal was reached in March, 2016 Putnam maintains, because the deputy who was beaten, Rigele Dean, asked that the charge be reduced because he didn’t want the matter to proceed to trial.

In addition, Putnam said a portion of the plea agreement included Black seeking in-patient treatment at the Veteran’s Administration for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dean suffered a broken nose, black eyes and lacerations above his eyes which required stitches in the confrontation, which occurred in March, 2015 when Dean was responding to a domestic assault call. The deputy said he saw Black walking along the road and turned around because he thought Black was trying to get him to stop.

The deputy said Black refused to show some identification and Dean then decided to detain him. Black then resisted arrest and began hitting the deputy.

In addition to showing Black beating the deputy, dash camera footage from the 2015 incident shows Black talking to the camera about believing law enforcement officers are targeting minorities.

On Thanksgiving Day, Black allegedly shot DPS officer Damon Allen with a rifle after a routine traffic stop on Interstate 45 near Fairfield, just south of Corsicana.

Authorities said Black fled the scene and was apprehended three hours later in Waller County after a police dog located the suspect in a hay field.

Black attended Lindale schools and is a 2003 graduate of Lindale High School.

In 2017, Black was charged with aggravated assault of a peace officer when he struck a deputy’s car which was stopped on Anne Campbell Road in the early morning hours of July 2.

The incident began when Black was pulled over on Lavender Road for speeding and having defective equipment. He drove off, turned onto Anne Campbell Road and struck the deputy’s car.

Officers then apprehended him and took him to the Smith County Jail, where he was booked on a $15,500 bond, which eventually was raised to $400,000.

Lindale Police Chief Dan Somes said his officers have had a few interactions with Black in the past, but nothing more than citations that weren’t taken care of, he said.

Lindale PD assisted Smith County in the 2015 and 2017 incidents.

“This is one of those tragic things that happen when you put on the badge,’’ Somes said. “(Black) has been telegraphing this for a long time.’’

Bingham said consulting with the District Attorney’s office before recommending reduced charges has been a departmental policy for more than 20 years and added he didn’t agree with Black’s plea agreement.

Putnam, however, said he believed he had authority to make the deal without the DA’s approval.

Late last week, Bingham said Putnam apologized to the DA for how he handled the plea agreement, adding he wouldn’t fire Putnam, the only candidate thus far running for the district attorney’s position in 2018.

Bingham said since the county is preparing to prosecute at least two capital murder cases, it’s essential to have an experienced prosecutor on hand for these cases for which the death penalty is to be sought.

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