The Texas Rangers will investigate a March 4 incident in which a Quinlan woman whose violent encounter with Hunt County sheriff’s deputies was recorded by home surveillance video. The clip has been shared widely on social media, resulting in regional and national attention to the story.
Deanna Robinson, 38, has said she was 38 weeks pregnant on March 4, the date of the incident. The event began when Hunt County sheriff's deputies Josh Robinson and William Whitten, Quinlan police officer Daniel Catalan and two Child Protective Services workers arrived at the home of Robinson's parents with a court order to take custody of her 18-month-old son, Landry.
The video appears to show Deanna Robinson, who is mostly obscured by the two sheriff’s deputies who are trying to subdue her. Deanna Robinson appears to be pressed against a kitchen counter, with her back to the officers. One deputy appears to hit Robinson, and begins to strike her again before the video ends.
“I’m his mother! Are you (expletive) kidding me?” Robinson screams during the video. “I’m pregnant!”
Accounts differ as to whether Robinson was handcuffed during the part of the incident recorded on video. Robinson has told various media outlets that she was handcuffed, but Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said at an April 8 press conference that Robinson was not handcuffed. Meeks also said that Robinson struck one of the deputies before the events shown in the video, while Robinson denies that claim, calling it "outrageous."
The situation at Robinson's parents' home escalated when, after being notified of the CPS workers' intent, Robinson tried to close the door on the deputies, Meeks said. The deputies then forced entry into the house and the scene became chaotic, Meeks said. Deanna Robinson became combative, shouted profanities at officers and struck deputy Josh Robinson in the face, Meeks said.
Officers then attempted to arrest Deanna Robinson for assaulting an officer and interfering with child custody orders, Meeks said. The video begins at that point, he said.
Meeks suggested that Robinson could have been attempting to grab a deputy’s gun.
“I believe that we can say that that is a possibility,” Meeks said. “From what I understand, she’d got some of his ammo belt off and was reaching for his gun when he delivered the blows to keep her from reaching his service revolver,” Meeks said.
However, Meeks would not say definitively whether Robinson would be charged with trying to disarm a law enforcement officer, Meeks deferred to the impeding Texas Rangers investigation on that point. Robinson has been charged with resisting arrest, in addition to the previously listed charges.
The Hunt County Sheriff’s Department office has not received a complaint from Robinson related to the incident, Meeks said.
If the investigation shows the deputy broke the law or violated Hunt County Sheriff's Department policy, Meeks said the deputy will be either prosecuted or disciplined as appropriate.
After the press conference, Deanna Robinson told the Greenville Herald-Banner that she found Meeks' statements “outrageous” and “shocking” and repeated her claims that she was handcuffed during the events shown in the video. Robinson denied that she was going for a deputy's gun and also denied that she had struck either deputy before the video began.
Robinson also told the Herald-Banner that Child Protective Services worker Jay Borton had contacted her earlier on March 4 to set up a health and wellness check, but she was not aware the agency was planning on taking custody of her son.
Carol Gustin, one of Robinson’s attorneys, said they want an independent investigation, preferably by the Texas Attorney General's Office.
Robinson and her husband, Joe Llenas, Sr., had been under Child Protective Services scrutiny since December 2014. The two admitted to putting a sock into the mouth of a Hayden, a 6-year-old son of Llenas, as a regular disciplinary measure. A subsequent court order required Llenas and Robinson to attend parental training and counseling.
In February of this year, Hayden reported violence at home to staff at D.C. Cannon Elementary School, according to an affidavit from Child Protective Services caseworker Erika Nelson. Hayden claimed to have been hit in the head by Llenas, the affidavit said. During an argument, Llenas and Robinson struck each other and Llenas threw a chair, it said.
Llenas denied hitting the child, but did admit to the physical fight with Robinson and the chair-throwing, according to Child Protective Services records.
On March 3, a Hunt County court granted emergency removal authority to Child Protective Services to remove Landry from Robinson’s custody.
Child Protective Services staff told the Greenville Herald-Banner that Landry and three children belonging to Llenas are in temporary protective custody.
Robinson’s infant son, with whom she was pregnant on March 4, was born healthy on March 15 and is in the custody of Robinson’s parents, the Herald-Banner reported.
After the March 4 incident, Robinson was arrested and charged with assaulting a public servant, interference with child custody and resisting arrest. She was released on bond on March 9.
Robinson served in the U.S. Air Force on active duty 2001-05 and then served eight years in the Reserve units, the Herald-Banner reported. Robinson received the Airman’s Medal after helping several people out of a burning airplane in Iraq, the report said.
Note: This article has been edited throughout and republished at 6:58 p.m. on April 8.