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Jailers Report DA Kicked Door

But no written reports of spitting
Jordan Smith, 4:14pm, Fri. Apr. 19, 2013
Photo by Jana Birchum

Reports made by Travis County jailers in connection with the arrest on April 12 of District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg indicate that she was placed into protective custody and later restrained in order to keep her safe.

Lehmberg was arrested late last Friday after a passing motorist saw her vehicle driving erratically on FM 620 near Comanche Trail. Lehmberg told a Travis County Sheriff's Office Deputy that she had two vodka drinks earlier in the evening; an open bottle of vodka was found in the passenger compartment of her car.

She failed field sobriety tests and refused a breath test, according to documents released this afternoon by Travis County Attorney David Escamilla, whose office handles misdemeanor prosecutions. Officers obtained a warrant to draw her blood; the test showed Lehmberg's blood-alcohol content was .239, very nearly three times the legal limit.

Lehmberg was placed in an isolated cell in order to protect her while at the jail, according to the documents. While in that cell, Lehmberg repeatedly kicked the cell door and refused to stop when ordered to do so, prompting the jailers to restrain her. "In an attempt to protect Inmate Lehmberg from harming herself, officers were forced to place Inmate Lehmberg in the Emergency Restraint Chair," reads the "isolation cell record" form that documents the use of the restraints.

According to the documents, Lehmberg was also "resistive" during a pat down and when being escorted to make a phone call, and she "attempted to scratch and grab" the hands of the officer trying to conduct the search. Lehmberg also began yelling through her cell door just before 5am that she wanted to be seen by a judge. Lehmberg was released on personal bond at 7:15 am, according to the jail records.

Video taken from the dash cam of the TCSO vehicle as well as footage made with a hand-held recorder inside the jail were not available this afternoon, though Escamilla said his staff was working on having them released as soon as possible.

Notably, none of the jail records indicate that Lehmberg attempted to either kick or to spit at any TCSO employees during her brief turn in the jail. Allegations that she did both and that she was otherwise out of control were alleged in a lawsuit that seeks to have Lehmberg removed from office, pursuant to provisions of the Local Government Code, that was filed this week by attorney Kerry O'Brien.

In a statement, Escamilla said that in deciding what punishment would be sought for her crime, "we looked at the defendant's blood alcohol level, her age and lack of criminal history, the open contained found in her car, the driving involved and the defendant's conduct after the arrest" – which he notes was "deplorable."

Indeed, Lehmberg earlier today pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days in jail (which she has already begun to serve) plus a $4,000 fine, the maximum allowed by law. "This level of jail sentence is at the higher end, if not the highest, of punishments assessed in Travis County for a first time DWI," he said. "We take no personal pleasure in today's events nor do we make any apologies for performing our duty and taking this action," he continued. "We simply worked diligently and professionally along with the deputies and jailers of the [TCSO] to assure that justice has been done."

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