NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS — The crimes are serious; the punishments non-existent.
A News 8 investigation found the Dallas Police Department has dropped charges in more than 40 family violence cases this year where the suspect was an illegal immigrant.
At least eight were serious felony cases where the victims were held at knife-point.
Instead of going on trial, the suspects were released from jail and deported.
"Deportation is not a substitution for holding a criminal accountable,” said Paige Flink, executive director of The Family Place, a resource center for victims of family violence.
In April, Dallas police said Carlos Flores pulled a butcher knife on his wife.
Then, police report, Flores told his wife he had killed three people in Honduras and that "he was not afraid to kill again."
Flores fell asleep holding the knife to his wife's throat.
"This is a very serious case,” said Flink.
Texas law recognizes that victims of family violence can be too frightened to cooperate. So the law, in essence, allows a police officer to serve as a primary witness for the prosecution.
For that reason, police on the Flores crime scene generated what's known as a family violence packet. In it are things like photographs, history of past injuries, statements given in the heat of the moment, and evidence, like weapons.
But Dallas police did not turn the Flores case over the district attorney for prosecution after Flores' wife filed documents asking that he not be prosecuted. So — despite the seriousness of the alleged crime and the evidence against Flores — he was released from jail and deported to Honduras.
"Well, that doesn't make sense,” Flink said.
In March, Dallas police arrested Mauricio Olivarez after he allegedly pulled a pocket knife on his common law wife saying, "I'm going to kill you."
Two days later, she filed a document with police saying she wanted the charges dropped. Olivarez was released from jail and bused back to Mexico.
In May, German Medrano allegedly "grabbed a kitchen knife and held it to (his wife's) throat." While Medrano sat in jail, Dallas officers could not locate his wife. Charges were dropped and Medrano was released from jail and bused back to Mexico.
In the eyes of the law, it's as if a crime never happened.
But that's not how all departments do it. "We're going to file the case,” said Cpl. Chad Taylor with the Farmers Branch Police Department.
Farmers Branch police say as long as the facts have not changed, it will press charges — with or without the victim. They say it's in the best interest of public safety regardless of what country the suspect comes from.
The Dallas Police Department declined to be interviewed about why it drops charges against illegal immigrants accused of violent felonies, but in a statement writes:
"Not every case is prosecutable nor is it necessarily appropriate to send every case forward..."
“...detectives try to balance the facts of the incident, the wishes of the victim, and the interest of the state."
Still, Flink says, police can and do charge cases, much like these, even when victims are uncooperative.
“Just looking at it from purely my family violence perspective, if you have someone who commits an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, they should be charged with a felony. Not the charges dropped,” she said.
If these cases were charged, it would be job of the the Dallas DA's office to take the cases to court.
The DA declined to be interviewed, but writes, "We have full confidence in the department..."