Nicholas Crouch (2021)

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On September 21, 2021, Crouch ran from police as they pursued him for a series of burglaries.[1] After he was caught, Van Zandt County Texas Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Steven "Craig" Shelton repeatedly struck a handcuffed and compliant Crouch in the face, causing bodily injury.[2]

The incident was witnessed by Sheriff Steve Hendrix, Deputy Jerry Wood, and Sergeant Blake Snell, who were later indicted on charges of giving a false statement to a peace officer.[3]

On January 10, 2022, Shelton admitted to striking Crouch and agreed to permanently surrender his peace officer license in a deal to avoid local prosecution for use of excessive force.[3][4]

On January 19, 2022, the Texas Rangers opened an investigation into Shelton's actions.[5]

In March 2022, Hendrix, Wood, and Snell were indicted for giving a false statement to a peace officer during the investigation. Each could face up to six months in jail on the misdemeanor charge.[6]

On March 31, 2022, Shelton surrendered his license and entered a pre-trial intervention contract.[7]

On April 29, 2022, Hendrix resigned.[6]

On May 20, 2022, the charges against Hendrix, Wood, and Snell were dismissed. The District Attorney stated that the "interest of justice would be best served by protecting those future cases on behalf of victims and agreeing to dismiss the charges in exchange for resignation from the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office".[8]

On July 1, 2022, federal charges were filed.

On July 6, 2022, Shelton pleaded guilty to federal charges of deprivation of rights under color of law and faces a 44-month prison sentence.[9][10]

On July 13, 2022, Snell pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of obstruction of justice. If the plea is accepted, Snell will be sentenced to one year of probation.[11]

On May 31, 2023, Shelton was sentenced to 44 months in prison.[12]


Officers Involved

Official Reports

Additional Sources


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