ARLINGTON, Texas - The two former Arlington Police Department jailers who accepted a plea deal for the 2015 death of an inmate were both sentenced to a year of probation on Tuesday.
Pedro Medina and Steven Schmidt pleaded guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges for their role in 42-year-old Jonathan Paul’s death.
Paul was arrested in March 2015 after a traffic stop. He was restrained and pepper-sprayed because of his erratic behavior, and then moved to another cell and left on the floor. He died four days later.
According to court documents, Medina and Schmidt caused his death "by physically restraining Paul in a position that interfered with his breathing.” Both jailers were fired after being indicted for criminally negligent homicide.
"We would've liked to go to trial, to litigate this case and show the real reasons some of these things happened in the jail," said defense attorney Robert Rogers. "Arlington wouldn't even give them a course in CPR, so they couldn't react. Why aren't there medical people in the jail, why isn't there a nurse in the jail."
The charge against Medina was reduced to assault with bodily injury as part of his plea deal. The charge against Schmidt was also reduced to official oppression.
A judge decided to sentence them each to a year of probation plus a small fee.
“After considering all the evidence and the circumstances of these cases and talking with the family of Jonathan Paul, this agreement was determined to be the best response to the level of personal involvement of these defendants,” the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. “Both defendants will have to strictly uphold the conditions imposed by the court in order to successfully complete their sentences. We are hopeful their accountability for their roles in this tragedy will bring some measure of closure for the Paul family.”
Paul's family, along with the NAACP, settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of Arlington in April 2016 for $1.2 million.
Several of Paul’s family members were at the sentencing.
“Because of the God I serve I have to forgive you. But I still hurt and I’m still angry,” his uncle Marvin Phillips said. He was upset that the jailers get to go back to work and retire.
Paul’s family filed a lawsuit against the city of Arlington last year and ended up settling for $1.25 million.