Snyder Plea Spares Knee

The much-anticipated case of former APD officer Eric Snyder came to a sudden conclusion Oct. 25, with Snyder pleading no contest to a class C misdemeanor as part of a plea bargain.

Snyder had been charged with official oppression, a class A misdemeanor, in conjunction with a March 2000 incident where he allegedly hit a suspect already in handcuffs. Instead, Snyder will receive deferred adjudication; if he stays out of trouble for the next six months, the charge will be completely dismissed.

The case attracted attention because Snyder's attorney Steve Edwards argued before District Judge Julie Kocurek -- with some success -- that the prosecution was part of a pattern of selective enforcement by the APD. Specifically, Edwards argued, the department engaged in disparate disciplinary practices based on an officer's seniority, rank, or popularity within the department. Kocurek had given Edwards a chance for further discovery on this claim -- thanks to the testimony of retired APD Internal Affairs investigator Gary Fleming, who told the court he had personal knowledge of investigations that APD brass halted or failed to refer for prosecution, even though IA investigators had found it likely that a criminal violation had taken place. After that ruling, Edwards duly subpoenaed APD Chief Stan Knee; not surprisingly, the city wasn't hip on having Knee take the stand and sought to quash the subpoena. Wrangling over Knee's testimony had stalled the case until the plea agreement Friday.

"This worked out well for Eric Snyder, and I think justice was served," said Austin Police Assoc. President Mike Sheffield. "But, there are still questions left out there, unanswered, regarding whether all officers are treated fairly."

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