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A Texas deputy has been relieved of her duties after she was allegedly found using her boyfriend’s taser on her three children aged 8, 11, and 12.
Former Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Xochitl Ortiz, 34, appeared in court on May 20 to face three counts of causing injury to children younger than 15.
Each count carries a possible sentence of 10 years in prison, under Texas law.
Ortiz was a two-year veteran of the force. Her boyfriend, former deputy Christopher Worthington, has also been fired the department. He joined in October 2020.
The alleged abuse occurred at Ortiz’s apartment in town of Tomball between April 1 and 4 this year.
During that time, Ortiz is accused of ‘drive stunning’ her children with an ‘electric self-defense device.’ She is believed to have used her fellow deputy boyfriend’s department issued Taser.
Former Harris County Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Xochitl Ortiz is facing charges of causing injury to children under the age of 15
Ortiz’s boyfriend, Christopher Worthington, joined the department in October 2020. He has also been fired for violating the force’s policies
According to Police1, a ‘drive-stun’ is ‘generally considered to be a pain-compliance technique that is a lesser quantum of force than deploying the probes.’
Prosecutors say that the children told their father, who is divorcing their mom, about the alleged abuse.
They said they were tasered in the bottom, hand and shoulder. Ortiz’s children reported the alleged abuse to their father, and that they “do not feel safe” in her home, a probable cause finding prosecutors filed in Harris County District Court states, adding that the boys “made consistent statements of abuse” by their mom to state child protection workers. Ortiz and the children’s dad are currently going through a divorce.
He then reported Ortiz to authorities on April 14. Ortiz was taken into custody on May 18.
The hearing officer during the court appearance told Ortiz: ‘The facts allege that you used a Taser to tase each of your children: one on the hand, one on the buttocks, one on the shoulder. The facts allege the complaining witnesses complained of shock and pain and don’t feel safe in your home,’ reports KTRK.
Ortiz was remanded in custody. At the time of writing, Ortiz is not longer listed as an inmate on the Harris County jail meaning that she has posted bond.
Her bail had been set at $450,000, it was later lowered to $150,000.
According to Ortiz’s financial disclosure document, her income is $2,500 per month. She has over $4,500 of monthly expenses and $300 in the bank.
Ortiz’s lawyer Russell Neumann, told KTRK that his client maintains her innocence and intends to ‘fight’ the allegations against her.
Ortiz is a two-year veteran of the department. Her boyfriend has also been fired from the department
The taser that was used in the incident belonged to Worthington, Ortiz’s boyfriend.
Worthington has been fired from his job for department policy violations to but is not currently facing any criminal charges.
In a statement, Ortiz’s former boss, Constable Mark Herman said: ‘On April 14, 2022 my office received a complaint in reference to these allegations and immediately initiated an investigation. My office, along with investigators with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office worked together, culminating in my office placing ex-deputy Xochitl Ortiz into custody and transferring her to the investigators.’
The terms of Ortiz’s bond include her being within 200 feet of her children, staying away from their father, her boyfriend, weapons, items that look like weapons as well as keeping away from alcohol and drugs.
Ortiz said in the back of the empty courtroom as she heard prosecutors allege that her children do not feel safe with her
Ortiz’s lawyer maintained her innocence in a statement and was adamant that his client intends to fight the charges
Ortiz’s children told authorities during the investigation that they do not feel safe with their mother, reports KHOU.
The largest taser manufacturer in the US, Axon, recommends against using tasers on children on their website.
According to Strategies for Youth, a non-profit that seeks to improve relations between youths and law enforcement, tasers are used too frequently on children.
A report from the group states in part: ‘Physically and emotionally, they respond very differently than adults to stress, trauma, and physical assaults. Unfortunately, law enforcement in this country frequently fails to recognize that young people require an entirely different set of tools and strategies during encounters and interactions than adults.’