Breaking News
More () »

Dallas police chief upset over some violent offenders being released within days of arrest after bonds lowered by judges

"We can’t be the only ones where people demand accountability and transparency,” said Chief Garcia.

DALLAS — Jaylon Levo grew up in Dallas, loved cars and was close to his family. 

"He called me every night, and I can’t get over not getting that call,” said Marsha Scott, aunt.   

When no one could reach him on Feb. 17, they knew something was wrong.

”We were just talking on the phone and he didn’t call me back,” said Levo's father, Jeremy Smith. 

The 22-year-old was robbed and shot at an apartment complex in Duncanville. 

“Our family is devastated. I never thought something like this would happen to us,” said Jermeise Smith, aunt.  

His father, who is a barber, cut his son’s hair for the funeral. 

”He was shot in the left side of his head, and the bullet exited his ear,” said Smith.

Police arrested 18-year-old Cameron Stafford for capital murder. 

According to court documents, police said Stafford confessed to being with two juvenile suspects wearing ski masks when Levo was killed.

Stafford’s bond was set by a magistrate at $1 million, but Judge Chika Anyiam lowered it to $150,000. He bonded out. 

It’s the second case WFAA has reported on where Judge Anyiam has significantly lowered the bond on a suspect in a murder case. 

RELATED: Dallas judge recuses herself from case after backlash on decision to lower bond of accused murderer

Although, courthouse sources said other judges are also doing it. 

"I’m crying out, and I’m asking for justice for my son,” said Smith.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said he too wants justice for victims and accountability from judges.  

"We can’t be the only ones where people demand accountability and transparency,” said Garcia.

He said as cities across the nation struggle with gun violence, they are taking a closer look at the violent suspects being released on bond.

"I don’t think we get to say we are serious about gun crime if that is happening," said Garcia.

The Dallas Police Department pulled a sample of 240 cases involving suspects arrested for murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated assault in 2021. 

And of those cases, Chief Garcia said nearly 30% were released within two weeks, and 70% of those suspects used guns to commit their crimes. 

"And certainly committing offenses like murder, agg assault or agg robbery with a firearm and then being released in two weeks is not reasonable. And I’m sure that the neighborhoods I go to that want more police presence think that’s not reasonable either,” said Garcia. 

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has led the county’s efforts for bond reform.

He agrees with the chief.

”I see people who are on bond recommitting, and not in six months to a year span, but at times... I’m talking about a month or weeks.”

RELATED: 'We are in a crisis': Dallas County Commissioners say some Dallas County judges are not clearing dockets fast enough, creating huge backlog 

Dallas PD's numbers show nearly 20% of those released had committed other violent offenses in the same year. 

“Often times, these individuals are being released right back in the neighborhoods they came from and revictimizing the people in the communities they came from,” said Garcia.

Commissioner Price said some judges aren’t properly reviewing their cases.

"You’re the judge. You’ve got access you can make a determination if you are doing your job,” said Price. 

Commissioner Price said the jail is full of non-violent offenders languishing and awaiting trial, while some violent defendants are released. 

“There is no rhythm or reason. No real process,” said Price.

In Levo’s case, court documents show Judge Anyiam said in open court she knows the suspect’s mother who works as a bailiff in the courthouse. 

The District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to raise Stafford’s bond after a new prosecutor was assigned the case and learned of the connection. 

Levo’s family fears they won’t get justice. 

”You put so much into a child and for someone to just snatch him, it’s just not right, and the judge needs to go,” said Jermeise Smith. 

Judge Anyiam’s court says they don’t talk about ongoing cases. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out