Go-cam seizure was only the beginning of deputy sheriff's bad day

Way back on Memorial Day weekend, Dallas County Sheriff Deputy James Westbrook was deployed, along with hundreds of other law enforcement officers, in order to prohibit reckless behavior by motorcycle riders on the anniversary of a biker event where they shut down North Central Expressway in Dallas and sprayed graffiti on the road. In the course of his patrol, he stopped biker Chris Moore somewhere along Interstate 35. During his arrest of biker Chris Moore, Westbrook said:

The reason you're being pulled over is because I'm gonna take your camera and we're gonna use it as evidence of in the crimes that have been committed by other bikers.

When he refused to give up the camera, Westbrook created a lame excuse to arrest Moore (dirty license plate) and slammed his leg while shoving him into a squad car. It took nearly three months for the Sheriff Department to investigate and eventually suspend Westbrook for his behavior. (Video: WFAA News 8)

According to documents released this week under an Open Records Request, Westbrook bragged about the arrest on the DSO vehicle chat network and committed two other departmental infractions that same day.

DSO Deputy Westbrook - Dereliction of Duty

On September 11, 2012, Executive Chief Deputy Jesse Flores issued a Dallas County Sheriff's Memorandum for Disciplinary Action to Westbrook. He stated...

It was found that you were derelict in your duties when you, without establishing probable cause/reasonable suspicion, performed a traffic stop on May 27, 2012 on motorcyclist Christoper Moore that resulted in his arrest.

Translation - Westbrook had no reason to stop Moore, then created an excuse to arrest him and seized the camera. The camera was returned, with the video intact, but it is proper to assume it cannot be used in any prosecution against Moore.

He continued -

It was found you were derelict in your duties when you left your arrested person in a small holdover in the Sallyport [BD Note: the area of the jail where perps are delivered in front of news crews], left in your vehicle, and then was involved in another traffic related incident arrest.

The report does not explain the details of the second arrest, how long Moore was left in the holdover cell, or if anyone else knew Moore was in the holdover cell.

The memo concludes Westbrook violated General Orders for Field Procedures / Stopping Vehicles

Deputies initiating any form of law enforcement contact with any person shall have articulative reasonable suspicion for such contact. A detainee, once cited or warned, will not be detained beyond the point where there exists a reasonable suspicion of further criminal activity.

Translation: There was no reason to take Moore into custody over a citation for a dirty license plate, and there was no excuse for slamming Moore's leg with the car door in a fit of anger.

Also released to BD was five pages of Chat Logs, conversations between Westbrook and other officers on that date between 1:54pm and 8:52pm. The copy is of such a poor quality that it won't even scan.

Between conversations about a robber being chased by Dallas Police, buying beer for a party, an Indian rain dance and fighting chickens, Westbrook bragged about seizing the camera. The log only shows Westbrook's side of the conversation, but as fast as he typed messages, there would have been no time for any replies.

7:19:47pm Westbrook to ECloud Hey, did y'all take their cameras from the truck??
7:20:05pm Westbrook to RGarcia Which way did yall go last time? [BD Note: Referring to a social event??]
7:20:26pm Westbrook to RGarcia Ahh
7:20:47pm Westbrook to ECloud Did that girl take them I guess?
7:21:00pm Westbrook to ECloud Are you telling me I was the only one smart enough to get a camera off of someone? LOL
7:21:43pm Westbrook to RGarcia He[y], Meg wants us all to ride together. Is that cool?
7:21:50pm Westbrook to RGarcia Do you mind driving? Ill buy you some beer...
7:22:03pm Westbrook to RGarcia If not I can drive, I just gotta clean the back seat

This is not Westbrook's first visit to the Disciplinary Review process. Back in January 2011, Westbrook was disciplined after two on-duty vehicle wrecks in less than two months:

It was found that you have violated the Dallas County General Orders and Code of Conduct by having an on-duty vehicle crash for the second time within two months that was ruled as 'preventable'

Westbrook was suspended in mid-September for the Memorial Day incident, which means he is probably back out on the highways again. The attorney for Moore told WFAA last month he intended to go forward with a trial on the arrest, but BD has not determined if this plan has changed or if the charges were dropped after Westbrook was suspended.

By Avi S. Adelman under Public safety , Safe streets