Trooper death takes spotlight in Smith County District Attorney race

Trooper death takes spotlight in district attorney race

TYLER - The death of a state trooper on Thanksgiving is now having an affect on the Smith County District Attorney race.

Tyler attorney, Alicia Barkley, says the circumstances surrounding the trooper’s death were a factor in her decision to file for candidacy on Monday.

"This is not a decision I made lightly, it took a lot of thought and prayer but I could not sit by and not run given the things that I am seeing," said Barkley.         

One thing on her list is the controversy surrounding her opponent, Jacob Putman, a prosecutor, and his decision to reduce charges for Dabrett Black.

Black is the man who was charged with the murder of Trooper Damon Allen. Allen was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Thanksgiving.        

Back in 2015 Black was arrested in Smith County for assaulting a deputy.

He was initially indicted on a felony charge, but got off with a misdemeanor and a year in prison, as part of a plea deal made by Putman.

Last month, current District Attorney Matt Bingham went on record saying that Putman did not have the authority to enter that plea deal.

Putman told CBS19 he was unaware he was violating policy when he reduced Black's charges. He says he was just taking into account what the victim wanted.    

"In this case, the deputy who was the victim in the case said he did not want to go to trial,” said Putman. “He was very clear about that, and he told me that he would rather have it reduced than proceed to trial."

Barkley said those policies have been in place for more than a decade. She went on to say it's hard to accept that Putman didn't understand them.

"We can't be walking criminals out the door on a plea bargain so that they can commit another violent offense,” said Barkley.

Looking forward, Putman says he hopes he can show the community he is fit for the position.

"In the future, if there is someone like Dabrett Black with a case like that, I will ensure that will never happen again,” said Putman. “I'm not someone who is unwilling to learn from the past."

Following Trooper Allen's death, current Bingham said Putman would not face a punishment because he was running unopposed and would become the next district attorney.

On Monday, CBS19 reached out to Bingham to see if that was still the case, but he refused to comment.

© 2018 KYTX-TV


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