Rusk Volunteer Fire Chief Donald Lankford was in court Tuesday facing an assault by physical contact charge, a class C misdemeanor. The jury ruled in favor of Mr. Lankford, handing up a not guilty verdict.
KETK was told a member of the media was supposed to be a witness in the case, so cameras were not allowed in the courtroom.
The Donald Lankford v. State of Texas case stems from an incident happening December 30, 2015. Lankford was accused of grabbing 16-year-old Wayne Foreman and trying to pull him out of his SUV. This is after Foreman’s friend, Zachery Banks, said he threw a firework in front of Mr. Lankford’s firework stand.
During Tuesday’s trial, Banks said he wanted to do it to ‘have a memory to look back on.’ He also said he was ‘being stupid’ and didn’t realize it was against the law. He apologized to Mr. Lankford.
Jury selection for the trial took a turn of events when 40 jurors were subpoenaed and only 18 showed up. Officials went to the streets to grab 12 more people to bring the jury pool up and six were selected.
Four witnesses testified on Tuesday; both Foreman and Banks, Hope Corley, a witness from a gas station nearby and Lieutenant Brad George, who issued the complaint.
Among the evidence presented at trial was security camera video of the incident from a gas station.
After both sides presented their case, it took the jury less than an hour to deliberate, finding Mr. Lankford not guilty of assault by physical contact.