Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

October 18, 2013

Two officers attacked, three family members arrested in early Friday assault

A mother made bail, but her two sons remained in custody in Cherokee County Jail Friday evening

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE —

   Two Jacksonville Police officers were assaulted and three family members tear gassed and arrested early Friday during a brief melee in the 200 block of Newton Street.

Juanita Lara, 55, and her sons Gabriel Lara, 28, and Martin Lara, 34, were arrested and bonded Friday in connection with the assault. Juanita Lara apparently made bail, although Gabriel Lara and Martin Lara were still listed in custody in the Cherokee County Jail late Friday, records show. The names of the two assaulted officers were not immediately released by Jacksonville Police.

About 1:45 a.m. Friday, three officers responded to the front yard of a north Jacksonville residence in response to a call of a disturbance in progress. When they arrived, they overheard a man yelling at someone in an aggressive manner, according to Jacksonville Police Sgt. Jason Price.

Officers found Martin Lara, Gabriel Lara and Juanita Lara in the midst or aftermath of a violent altercation. Juanita Lara apparently was attempting to keep her two adult sons from fighting one another, Sgt. Price said.

Martin Lara appeared to be very agitated — although his mother held him somewhat at bay. Gabriel Lara was standing on the front porch with a visible injury from an apparent earlier fight with his brother, reports show.

Martin Lara "immediately challenged the officers and demanded they leave his property," according to the statement issued by police.

Officers instead instructed Martin Lara to remain in the front yard and to calm down. But he refused and attempted to run away, according to reports.

The officers attempted to stop Martin Lara but were interrupted by Juanita Lara blocking the officers from reaching her son, Sgt. Price said.

She and Martin Lara were in the process of being placed on the ground by officers. But as this was taking place, Martin Lara was able get on top of one of the officers and hold him to the ground by placing his hand on his throat.

Another officer removed Martin Lara from the officer he was attacking and began placing him in handcuffs. However Juanita Lara, angered at seeing her son arrested, "pulled an officer from behind," reports show.

The officer then turned to see who had "pulled on him," Sgt. Price said.

Juanita Lara then punched the officer twice in the face with her closed fist, reports show.

At this point, Gabriel Lara joined the fight, striking one of the officers in the nose.

Pepper spray — copious amounts of it — quickly halted this assault. Gabriel Lara and Juanita Lara were detained in the front yard while Martin Lara ran into the residence.

Officers detained Martin Lara moments later inside his mother’s residence.

Jacksonville EMS responded to the scene and treated both suspects and officers, for injuries. No further medical treatment was needed by anyone and the officers were cleared to return to duty, reports show.

Officers did learn about the assault that had taken place between Martin Lara and Gabriel Lara just prior to their arrival.

Juanita Lara was arrested on suspicion assault of a police officer, a third degree felony; and interference with public duties, a Class B misdemeanor.

Martin Lara, 34, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of assault on a peace officer, one count of interfering with public duties, one count of resisting arrest, and a final count of family violence, a Class A misdemeanor.

Gabriel Lara, 28, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a peace officer and interference with public duties.

Sgt. Price said responding to domestic disturbance calls have long been the most dangerous for officers to answer — literally officers have been killed responding to DV calls in the past decade alone.

"It's good for people to listen to police when they offer instructions," Sgt. Price said.