By John Waters, Publisher
Brewster County ranch owner and member of the Brewster County Water Conservation District Tom Beard was arrested for criminal trespass and charged with felony assault on May 14 after entering and refusing to leave the Pumpco, Inc. staging site just outside of Alpine, on the west side.
Pumpco, Inc. is a subsidiary of Florida-based Mas Tec, Inc., a partner in the proposed 143-mile Trans-Pecos Pipeline that, if constructed, will traverse Brewster County to deliver natural gas to Mexico.
On the morning of the 14th, during a water conservation district board meeting, local resident Suzanne Bailey notified the board that an existing water well was on the Pumpco site and was being used to fill Pumpco, Inc. water trucks.
After hearing Bailey and considering what the district could do, board president Virgil Clark said, “What we need to do is have Conrad [Arriola, general manager of the district] write [to] this company.”
A discussion ensued on how the district might contact the company to discuss permitting of the well.
Bailey informed the board the property was now owned by Jal Capital Investments, LLC. Beard told the board he could obtain names of corporate officers of the company from the Secretary of State’s office.
Beard then offered, “I was planning on going out there after this meeting, just to see it, because I’ve been hearing about it.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Clark invited Arriola to go out to the Pumpco site and Beard chimed in, stating, “I’d like to see it. That way we can try to make contact with somebody.”
Shortly after the meeting, Beard, Clark and Arriola drove together to the site, with this reporter following in a separate vehicle.
Attempting to make contact with a Pumpco supervisor, Beard drove over to a nearby water truck and spoke to an employee who claimed not to understand English very well and said that it was his first day on the job. Beard then drove to another water truck and spoke to an employee who refused to speak or to be photographed. Beard then drove on to a third vehicle and made contact with a more cooperative Pumpco employee, who spoke with Beard and said he would call the site supervisor, who was not on site. The employee told Beard that the supervisor would be back in about 45 minutes.
According to records obtained by the Gazette under an open records request with the Brewster County Sheriff’s Office, at 12:14 pm, a called was placed to dispatch from James Dickson, with this statement, culled from the written report:
“Caller [requested] a deputy to escort an individual off a property located off FM 1703. Called [advised] he is a foreman for PumpCo. [advised] there is an individual driving a silver Toyota Tundra TX TJJ022A that is refusing to leave, [advised] there are five people outside.”
Brewster County Sheriff Deputy Doug McIntyre arrived on the scene only a few minutes later, at 12:17 pm, and engaged Beard in a verbal standoff for over eighty minutes, informing Beard he was criminally trespassing and that unless he vacated the Pumpco site, Beard would be charged and arrested.
Beard maintained if he was given the name, telephone number, and address of the Pumpco Site supervisor he would leave immediately.
Deputy McIntyre informed Beard that the Pumpco supervisor was told by his employer not to reveal his identity and that he, too, would not reveal his name.
Citing the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, Beard asserted he had a right to know the identity of his accuser.
Beard also maintained he had a right to be on the property, as a representative of the water conservation district. Board President Virgil Clark remained several feet off the property for the duration of the negotiations between McIntyre and Beard.
At 1:38 pm, Brewster County Sheriff Captain Edward Cardoza arrived on the scene, with Sargent Mauricio V. Cordova arriving seconds later.
The three met with Beard and at 1:45 pm, Beard was arrested. According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause For Arrest, Cordova wrote, in part:
“Beard was asked to leave several time[sic] by Deputy McIntyre, who had been at the site for over two hours. As I arrived there was a small crowd of several onlookers that are against Pumpco in building a gas pipeline in Brewster County. Beard was behind the property line when he decided to step over the boundary of the property, attempting to get into his personal vehicle. Deputy McIntyre asked Beard to stop and he did not.
Deputy McIntyre asked Beard to stop and he did not. Deputy McIntyre asked Beard to place his hands behind his back to arrest him. Beard started to comply and Deputy McIntyre managed to get one cuff around his left wrist.
Deputy McIntyre asked Beard to stop moving, Beard then froze up and refused to place his right arm to his back. I stepped in and grabbed Beards[sic] arms [sic] and forced it back so that Deputy McIntyre could cuff him. While doing this Beard turned at me and used his right foot to stomp on my foot twice with his heel and sole of his cowboy boots. I remained until Deputy McIntyre affected the arrest and I stepped away. The heel of Beard’s boot did cause some pain to my right foot. Beard was advised he would be charged for the assault on me.”
Beard has been charged with “Felony 3 Assault on a Public Servant, DPS Code 13990063 Code and Section: PC 22.01 (b) (1).” Beard is also charged with a Class A misdemeanor for the trespass charge.
While Beard was being arrested, onlooker Suzanne Bailey of Alpine asked this reporter, “Is [Beard] kicking him [the deputy]?”
“No, I think [Beard] is stepping on his [Cordova’s] foot,” responded this reporter.
Beard also yelled an obscenity at the deputies during the arrest.
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson contacted confirmed Beard does have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, and had a handgun while being arrested.
Here is a partial transcript of the conversation amongst Brewster County Sheriff Deputy Doug McIntyre (DM) and Brewster County Water Conservation Board representative Tom Beard (TB) as recorded and transcribed by the Gazette:
TB: “Where are the private property no trespassing signs? [to Virgil Clark:] I can’t imagine he will arrest me. I wish my wife were still a judge.”
DM: “I’m asking you nicely to move off private property. I do not want to arrest you.”
TB: Why are you such a jerk on this? And why are you taking his side? We’ve got a right to be here.”
DM: “Not on his property.”
TB: “Yes we do: the well’s on his property.”
DM: “A soon as you remove yourself and your vehicle from the property, we will get to the next order of business which is all this permitting.”
TB: “As soon as he will register the well, I will get out of his hair…Mr. McIntyre you will get in more trouble….I’ve already told you, I know the law and you have about ten-hour law enforcement class.
‘Somebody’s going to be hanging out to dry on this. I’m not going to jail quietly. How else would I feel? Who wants to go to jail? I didn’t come here to break the law and go to jail. I came here to get his name, address, and phone number.”
‘If you get his name, address and phone number, we will remove the vehicle and ourselves and never come back and the problem is solved. That’s all I’m asking. I’m not asking much and then we’ll leave.”
DM: “And we will get to that as soon as you remove your vehicle.”
TB: “Why? Why is that the order of things?”
DM: “Because that is what I have determined.”
TB: “You better get the sheriff and county attorney in on this. It is not going to reflect well on you.”
TB [to the Pumpco employee]: “I just don’t understand why they are so stubborn and narrow-minded. Are you ashamed who you are? Why don’t you just tell us your name? …Look at this guy, guilty mother—f”
TB: “He [the Pumpco employee] has filed some kind of complaint with you verbally, for trespass. I am entitled under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution to know who is accusing me.”
DM: “In a court of law.”
TB: “What law school did you go to?”
DM: “I did not go to law school…. I’m going to ask you nicely to leave right now, this is going to be the last chance, we have held up these gentlemen long enough [referring to work at the site being halted by the company]. Mr. Beard, I’m going to ask you one more time to get in your vehicle and leave. If you do not leave, we are going to jail. Bottom line, last chance. Last chance: get in your vehicle and leave.”
TB: “You are not very bright, you are just reading the same thing over and over. I’m trying to give you a way out. If you want to be a hero, take the way out.”
Beard is represented by attorney Liz Rogers, who is based in Alpine.