Can you imagine the heartache and disbelief the family of 30-year-old Chester ‘C.J.’ Jackson experienced after not knowing any details about their loved one—then learning his initial arrest on April 19 in one county ended up leading to finding him in the hospital on life support in another county on April 22?
Jackson’s family has absolutely no idea what exactly happened to him. Interestingly, apparently, neither does the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department. Well, at least that is the narrative they have been providing anyone who has been seeking answers about the key details surrounding Jackson, especially his family and their attorneys.
Jackson, who commonly goes by ‘C.J.’ for those in the community who know him, has been battling for his life in critical condition in the ICU at St. David Hospital in Austin, Texas. Jackson’s condition has slightly improved, but he is still battling to recover.
Although Jackson’s condition has improved and his current medical condition known at this moment, what isn’t fully known are the key details surrounding the encounter Jackson had that led to his getting transported from Burleson County to Austin and ending up in his current condition.
This entire ordeal remains a mystery, clouded by suspicion surrounding the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department and their unwillingness to share critical information that can help shed light on what really happened to Jackson last month.
Back on April 19, Jackson’s family states that they were told by the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department that Jackson had been arrested by a Burleson County Sheriff officer for a Class C, low-level misdemeanor offense of public intoxication.
The next day after Jackson’s arrest, on April 20, Jackson’s father states he received a call from the Burleson County Justice of the Peace advising him that his son had been officially released from jail and that he should come pick him up. When Jackson’s father told the judge he was out of town and could not pick Jackson up himself, he promptly notified the judge that Jackson’s mother could come pick him up from the jail instead.
This is where things get very disturbing.
When notified by Jackson’s father that Jackson needed to be picked up from jail, Jackson’s mother and girlfriend both hurried to go pick him up from the Burleson County jail. Upon arriving to the jail within an hour of receiving the phone call to come pick up Jackson, the two ladies were met by the Burleson County Justice of the Peace, along with Burleson County Deputy Nathaniel L. Graves.
It was then that Jackson’s mother states that the two men claimed that Jackson had suddenly become a danger and could not be released, despite having served his time on the alleged public intoxication charge.
Burleson County officials opted to maintain custody of Jackson, which prompted his mother to request a visit with her son to let him know they had arrived and make sure he was okay. According to his mother, her request was denied and so she left.
The next day, on April 21, Jackson’s mother states that she called the Burleson County jail to check on Jackson’s status, but was given no update. They also told her that Jackson could not be found, which caused her to become extremely worried, as most parents would. She heard absolutely nothing until April 22. That is when Jackson’s mother began to panic, as she finally received news about Jackson and it was not good. According to his mother, she was told that Jackson was no longer in the Burleson County jail, but had been transported to Austin where he was in the hospital on life support after needing to be resuscitated.
After finding out that Jackson was at St. David Hospital in Austin, the family rushed down to check on his condition. When they arrived at the hospital, they found Jackson connected to a life support machine and in a coma. Upon viewing his body, the family states they saw several mysterious puncture wounds that resembled Taser prong marks on various parts of his body.
When his mother spoke with Burleson County Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy, he stated to her that C.J. was released from jail the same way he entered the jail—in healthy physical condition. Sheriff Norsworthy did, however, apparently inform her that Jackson was allegedly suffering from some sort of mental crisis. It was further communicated, according to the family, that one of Sheriff Norsworthy’s deputies, William C. Elkins, who began working at the Burleson County Sheriff’s department in November 2015 after being a reserve officer with Brazos County Constable Precinct 3 for one month, was the person who actually transported Jackson to Austin and released him to Cross Creek Hospital, where Jackson was allegedly in healthy physical condition.
According to their website, Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, Texas, is a “behavioral health treatment center that provides inpatient treatment services for individuals who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.”
So, if Jackson was dropped off in healthy physical condition at a mental health and substance abuse hospital in Austin nearly two hours away from the Burleson County jail, how did he end up in a coma on life support in ICU at an entirely different hospital shortly thereafter?
Jackson’s family decided to retain legal counsel to deal with this horrific ordeal that is full of questionable actions and limited details and information surrounding the case.
“All these facts point to foul play by each person involved with the custody and care of C.J., which is evident by the withholding of information to his family,” said civil rights attorney U.A. Lewis, who is representing the family alongside attorney Shardae Parker.
As far as some details go, it is known that Jackson ended up at St. David Hospital after being transferred from Cross Creek Hospital, but what is not known is if Jackson was ever admitted into Cross Creek Hospital after being taken their initially by Officer Elkins.
These things are unattainable at the moment because Jackson is currently in ICU on life support and his family has not able to get any of his medical records according to the law.
“Since we have to gather information to file any legal action, we have to gather facts,” said Lewis. “We are seeking emergency guardianship so that his father and mother can gain basic information that is currently being shielded by HIPPA violation allegations.”
To date, there are no court records of Jackson’s official arrest, nor any court proceedings.
According to the family’s attorneys, Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy stated he had footage from his jail showing Jackson being released on April 21 in perfect physical condition, but has yet to make that footage available after numerous requests.
Lewis and Parker also state that they have requested records of the arrest, the charge, release documents, use of force reports and the jail surveillance footage depicting Jackson being physically fine when he was released from jail, but the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department has been stalling and has practically refused to provide any of the requested items to date.
“Withholding information at critical times like this goes on far more often than the public realizes, although they have a duty to release it,” said Parker.
Lewis states that they are looking for community support from everywhere.
“We cannot allow this to go on in 2019. Many of us in Texas have spent time in the “country” and have relatives who still live there,” said Lewis. “Sandra Bland, like Emmett Till, was from Chicago. Do you think Emmett Till was the first to be killed in that town? The others had nobody from the outside to stand up for them. Sandra Bland’s death got attention because those from the outside spoke up. The Burleson County Sheriff’s Department is cooperative in promising information, but has failed to actually produce information. We need people from the outside to stand up for C.J. and share his story so the whole world can see. They need spotlight protection. We can handle the rest once we are in court.”
Burleson County is the neighboring county of Waller County, which is 60 miles west of where Sandra Bland was arrested and died within three days of her arrest back in 2015. Located within Burleson County, Caldwell is a small town between Austin and Houston, but also not far from Waco and Dallas, with a population of approximately 4,100. Caldwell is roughly 71% White and 13% African American.
By being a small town, the voices of Caldwell residents don’t get heard like those in larger cities, so it is important that those in larger cities speak up and out for Jackson and others like him.
There was recently a major protest rally and press conference held in front of the Burleson County Jail, where Jackson’s parents, girlfriend, children, the public, Black Lives Matter Houston, and the lawyers for the family gathered to demand justice for the young man.
Jackson’s father is having a difficult time understanding how a simple class C misdemeanor arrest could have ended like this. He and his son had recently invested in a landscaping business and had just got the business up and running. According to his father, he doesn’t know how he is going to be able to go on without the help of his son, because Jackson was the one responsible for completing the jobs, and he has now been left him to do everything.
According to Lewis, after they held their press conference, some interesting new developments have occurred that have increased optimism about learning what truly happened to Jackson.
First, the Texas Rangers have agreed to investigate, and have already begun an investigation into the matter. Secondly, the most interesting development involves the Caldwell Police Department in Caldwell, Texas.
According to Lewis, Caldwell Police Chief Charles Barnes confirmed this past week that one of their officers had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation related to that officer’s alleged engagement with and possible misconduct towards Jackson.
This is an interesting turn of events, especially considering there has been little to no details provided to the family, attorneys or the media. It also doesn’t answer any questions or shed any light on what actually happened to Jackson between the time of his arrest and by the time he ended up in the hospital on life support battling for his life.
As it relates to Jackson, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department was the arresting agency and the holding agency. So if Jackson was arrested by the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department and taken to the Burleson County jail, why would there be any reason for Jackson to come in contact or have to interact with anyone from the Caldwell Police Department?
These questions have still gone unanswered by Caldwell Police Chief Barnes, Burleson County Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy or anyone else who was in contact with Jackson. In the meantime, the full reason for the Caldwell police officer being place on administrative leave is unknown at this time, however we do know that it is in connection with CJ, which raises tons of red flags.
In a statement released from Burleson County Sheriff Norsworthy, he states:
“The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to doing what is right, legal and ethical. Mr. Chester Jackson and his family have our full sympathy. Since our first contact with Mr. Jackson in 2013, we have held Mr. Jackson’s safety and well being in highest regard as we would for any member of the community.
“The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office is committed to conducting a full and complete investigation into the actions and circumstances that have resulted in the current condition of Mr. Jackson, and to keeping Mr. Jackson’s family informed. At the conclusion of this investigation, all of our information will be made available to Mr. Jackson’s family and the community as appropriate.”
We will continue to follow this case and hope to find out more critical information that can help shed light on what truly happened to Jackson last month.
(Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst and frequent contributor for the NNPA Newswire and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and founder and CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.)