Hays Co. Jailer Indicted in ER Room Killing Skips Jail

Rather than sit in the jail he once guarded, he’s at home

Hays County Jail, where Isaiah Garcia worked but did not have to be imprisoned after being indicted in a detainee's killing (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Is Comal County – where 71% of the electorate voted for Trump in 2020 – on track to becoming the next soft-on-crime San Fran­cis­co? Or perhaps lawbreaking law enforcement just enjoys a radically different justice system than the rest of us.

On Good Friday, the sheriff's office in adjacent Hays County announced it was no longer employing Isaiah Garcia, a jailer who'd been indicted the day before on a third-­degree felony charge of deadly conduct. In Decem­ber, Garcia fatally shot Joshua Wright – a pretrial detainee at the Hays County Jail who was accused of a few nonviolent offenses – multiple times in the back in an ER room where Garcia was charged with watching Wright.

On April 6, a grand jury determined the jailer's actions were probably illegal, and so the Hays County District Clerk ordered Garcia arrested and brought to "the courthouse of said County in the city of San Marcos," per Hays County Clerk documents. But rather than land on an unfamiliar side of the steel bars in the very building where he had been employed since 2018, records obtained by the Chronicle indicate that Garcia turned himself into Comal County Jail in New Braunfels at 8:15pm.

Anyone who watched the new Super Mario Bros. Movie, clocking in at 92 minutes, spent more time in the theatre than Garcia spent in jail. By 9:41pm – without posting a penny of bail for his felony indictment – he was again a free man.

Hays County's district court administrator told the Chronicle that Judge Andrew Leon­ie, the magistrate in Comal County, issued a personal bond that enabled Garcia to go home without paying bail. While mainstream media broadly reported Garcia's release on a $25,000 bond, no outlet clarified that the jailer would only be required to fork over money should he skip out on his eventual court date. In contrast, Hays County Jail's website lists Wright's various bond amounts as totaling $18,000. Deprived of a personal bond, Wright's inability to afford bail meant that instead of similarly awaiting his day in court from the comfort of home, he was doomed to do so in custody, including under Garcia's watch.

Jordan Buckley is a co-founder of Hays County advocacy group Mano Amiga and left in 2022. He now muckrakes for grassroots media outlet Caldwell/Hays Examiner.

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Hays County Jail, Isaiah Garcia, Joshua Wright

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