Smith County District Attorney holds press conference, says prosecutor won't be terminated

Smith County District Attorney holds press conference, says prosecutor won't be terminated

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Smith County District Attorney's Matt Bingham is holding a live press conference in the D.A.'s office.

Bingham addressed protocol and policies that were mishandled in a separate 2015 felony case against a man who is now accused of fatally shooting a DPS trooper on Thanksgiving Day.

Dabrett Black, the suspect in the fatal shooting of a Texas state trooper during a traffic stop on Thanksgiving Day had previously beaten a Smith County deputy and allegedly tried to take his gun.

In March 2015, Smith County deputies responded to an assault call in Lindale in the area of FM Roads 4116 and 4117. When they arrived, they learned that Black had Deputy Wesley Dean when Dean attempted to physically restrain Black. Dean was injured during the confrontation, receiving cuts and scratches to his face.

In video released to KLTV by the Smith County District Attorney's office, Black is seen beating a deputy and holding him on the ground.

A plea agreement filed in March 2016 shows Smith County prosecutor, Jacob Putnam, created a plea agreement for a one-year jail sentence reducing the 3rd degree felony assault charge to misdemeanor assault and dismissing the charge of attempting to take a weapon from an officer.

Records show Assistant District Attorney Putnam signed off on the plea deal, but did not get the signature required by Bingham or the First Assistant District Attorney April Sikes.

In a letter memo signed on Nov. 27, 2017, Bingham sent a memo to his office that no dismissals are to be turned in to the felony courts without their signatures. Failure to do so could result in termination.

Bingham stated today in the press conference that Putnam will not be terminated from his position.

Bingham said he received a call from Putnam Wednesday night. Putnam apologized for reducing and dismissing the charge without Bingham's consent. Bingham says he accepted Putnam's apology.

Putnam is the the only candidate in place to become District Attorney on Jan. 1, 2019.

Bingham stated in the presser, "Everybody makes decisions they regret." Bingham says he hopes Putnam will learn from this mistake and will gain another year's worth of experience before taking over as DA.

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