WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A former Williamson County deputy was indicted on assault causing bodily injury and official oppression charges relating to an arrest made during an April 2019 traffic stop.
A release from Attorney Robert M. McCabe, who represents 25-year-old Christopher Pisa, say Pisa’s indictments come from his contact with Imani Nembhard on April 21, 2019, during a traffic stop.
Pisa allegedly stopped Nembhard on State Highway 195 for not having a front license plate, according to the release. That’s when he saw two young children in the car without car seats.
Pisa tried to have Nembhard get out of the car, but they got into an argument and then a physical fight, the release said. Nembhard was ultimately arrested on charges of assault on a public servant and resisting arrest.
Both of them got minor injuries, and both charges against Nembhard were ultimately dismissed, the release said.
The confrontation was caught on body and dash cam video. The videos, reports and a separate use-of-force report were all reviewed by supervisors with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office. They determined Pisa’s behavior followed department policy, the release said.
However, Nembhard’s arrest was reviewed again by Williamson County Chief Deputy Tim Ryle, who told Pisa he needed to voluntarily resign, according to the release. He did, within a few days of the incident.
McCabe claims Nembhard’s unnecessary arrest stemmed from poor and improper training Pisa received as a rookie officer. In the release, McCabe explained it was Pisa’s first job as a peace officer, and he had been patrolling by himself for three and a half months when the confrontation happened.
Pisa graduated the Williamson County Basic Peace Officer Course through the Deputy A.W. Grimes training center in September 2018.
“Best practices in training recommends that newly licensed peace officers ride with more experienced officers for at least 5-7 months before being placed on the streets alone,” the press release said.
To pinpoint the problems, the release said Pisa cooperated with an 18-month long Texas Rangers investigation, which revealed “serious errors” in the way Williamson County cadets were trained through the center.
According to the press release, those errors included not teaching cadets, including Pisa, how to handle practical traffic stop scenarios and use de-escalation techniques.
McCabe and Pisa both agree Nembhard shouldn’t have been arrested.
“She should not have been arrested, should not have spent two days in jail, should not have been required to post bail and should not have been subjected to this humiliating event at all,” the release read.
McCabe said they hope the investigation will “be viewed as a training and supervision failure, rather than as an intentional abuse of power” from Pisa.
Pisa could potentially serve one year in jail and/or pay a $4,000 fine for each count, the press release said.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Pisa resigned, and that the sheriff referred his actions to the district attorney in early 2019 for possible criminal prosecution.
This comes as the Texas Rangers are investigating five use of force cases involving Williamson County deputies. The department has also drawn national scrutiny for the in-custody death of Javier Ambler during a taping for the A&E reality show “Live PD.”