Eyewitness at candidate forum said cameraman was tripped

By Anita Miller

An eyewitness to the altercation at the Feb. 5 candidate forum in Wimberley says a KXAN cameraman, whose heavy camera hit a woman over the head, was tripped by Pct. 3 Constable’s Office employee Darrell Ayers.

A screenshot from KXAN footage shows Darrell Ayers, an employee of the Hays County Pct. 3 Constable’s Office, step in front of reporter Jody Barr at the Feb. 5 candidates forum in Wimberley.

“I saw the whole thing. I was standing there,” Abel Velasquez said.

Velasquez said he was standing near Jessica Deatherage, who is challenging incumbent Ray Helm for the Republican nomination for Pct. 3 constable, when Michele Hart walked by with the KXAN news crew right behind her, after the conclusion of the Fraternal Order of Police-sponsored forum ahead of the March 3 primaries. 

“Ayers flew by me and put his foot out to trip the cameraman, which he did,” Velasquez said. “Boom, there went the cameraman.” He said Ayers then began to deny his actions. “He said, ‘I didn’t do it,’ but he did. He caused the cameraman to go forward and hit the lady.”

Velasquez left the forum shortly after the altercation and was not asked for a statement by anyone from the Hays County Sheriff’s Department, which took the initial report after Hart said she wanted to file charges. He did, however, post to Facebook on Feb. 7.

“My view on it is, if you’re an elected official you’ve got to take the bad with the good. Take your lumps and hopefully they will forgive you. What Ayers did is totally wrong.”

Velasquez, a resident for San Marcos, has previously run for the position of Hays County Judge.

Hart complained that the news crew had assaulted her. Video later released by KXAN did not show the actual point of contact, but did show Ayers jumping in front of reporter Jody Barr and pushing him backwards, then accusing Barr of stepping into him.

In a news release from the sheriff’s office, the incident was described as involving “staff members of Hays County Precinct 3 Constable Ray Helm’s office.” Because of that involvement, the Texas Rangers were called out to take over the investigation.

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