Affidavit: Smith County commissioner's arrest may have stemmed from argument over church decorations

Affidavit: Smith County commissioner's arrest may have stemmed from argument over church decorations

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A Smith County commissioner's recent arrest for injury to an elderly individual may have stemmed from an argument about decorations at a church.

The affidavit, obtained Monday by KLTV, details the incidents that lead to the arrest of Smith County Commissioner JoAnn Hampton. Friday, an arrest warrant was issued charging Hampton with the offense of Injury to an Elderly Individual. About 11:20 a.m. Monday, the Smith County Sheriff's Office said Hampton turned herself in to the Smith County Jail where she was processed and subsequently posted bond.

The affidavit details an argument that led up to the incident, where Hampton allegedly pushed the woman, "causing her to strike a chair and fall. This caused a small abrasion."

According to the document, in incident occurred April 2 at Spring Creek Baptist Church in Tyler.

The alleged victim, who is 72 years old, told officials the argument began when she was talking with the pastor in an office and Hampton entered the room. She alleged that Hampton "was pointing her finger in her face, telling her to 'talk to her' if she had a problem, and not to go to the pastor."

She then alleged that Hampton pushed her.

The pastor of the church told a deputy that "the two have had 'drama' for years," the affidavit states.

The following day, on April 3, an investigator spoke with the alleged victim who said she and Hampton spoke about decorating the sacrament table prior to the Sunday service at their church.

She also detailed the incident to the investigator, which was then reported in the affidavit:

"She said Mrs. Hampton was 'short' with her. She said she went to (the pastor's) office and was talking with him with the door closed. (The woman) said 'all of a sudden,' Mrs. Hampton burst into the office like a 'raging bull' and was screaming at her. She said Mrs. Hampton was saying that if she ... had something to say, she needed to say it to her face. She said Mrs. Hampton used the palms of both her hands to push her in the shoulder area, causing her to fall backwards. She said she tried catching herself in a chair as she was falling, causing her to scrape her right forearm on the chair."

The alleged victim said she did not stay for service, went home, called the police and went to a hospital. She told police the incident left her with a sprained wrist.

When investigators contacted Hampton about the case, she said she "didn't know what she could tell me (the investigator" and that she didn't push the woman but they had a conversation. According to the affidavit, she told police there was no physical contact. She also told them the pastor had witnessed the incident.

The investigator spoke with the pastor of the church, who confirmed the argument was over "dressing" the communion table and said "it was his understanding that it had been (the alleged victim's) day to 'dress' it" but she was late and it had already been done when she arrived.

The pastor told a law enforcement officer that the woman came into his office to speak to him prior to services and that Hampton "barged" into the office and told her to "come to her" to resolve issues.

"He said the ladies were yelling at one another, stepping closer, until they were 'face to face.' (The pastor) said at that point, Mrs. Hampton pushed (the alleged victim) out of her 'space,' causing (her) to stumble backwards, falling down into/on a chair. He said Mrs. Hampton pushed her 'hard,' causing her to fall back 1 to 2 feet," the affidavit states.

The woman's medical records were obtained by officials on April 17 and officials learned she was diagnosed with a wrist sprain, hand sprain and anxiety attack.

Early Monday, the Smith County Sheriff's Office released a statement on Hampton's arrest:

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, at approximately 12:30 pm, the Smith County Sheriff's Office received a call of a possible assault which was alleged to have taken place at the Spring Creek Baptist Church located in the 13000 block of County Road 46 in Smith County.

A Smith County Sheriff's Deputy was dispatched to take a report from the victim at her residence. The victim alleged she had been inside the Pastor's office of the church with the door closed discussing an issue with the Pastor when JoAnn Hampton entered the office and immediately began shouting at her. The victim further stated that JoAnn Hampton pushed her down causing her to fall against a chair and injure her wrist. The victim was treated and released at a local hospital emergency room for her injuries.

Follow up investigation was conducted by a detective with the Smith County Sheriff's Office Criminal Investigation Division which concluded probable cause existed to charge JoAnn Hampton with Injury to an Elderly Individual, a State Jail Felony.

On Friday, April 21, 2017 an arrest warrant was issued by 188th State District Judge David S. Brabham in Gregg County charging JoAnn Hampton with the offense of Injury to an Elderly Individual. Judge Brabham recommended bond be set at $10,000.

On Monday, April 24, 2017, at approximately 11:20 am, JoAnn Hampton turned herself in to the Smith County Jail where she was processed and subsequently posted bond.

This is a developing story. Stay with KLTV for updates.

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