East Texas ex-deputy pleads guilty to using excessive force

TYLER, Texas (AP) — A former East Texas deputy has pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation for punching a restrained detainee in the chest repeatedly with a shock gun, according to court documents.

Former Van Zandt County sheriff’s deputy David Yager pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge arising from a February 2021 assault on a detainee. The plea came before a federal magistrate in Tyler, Texas, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The man was in a restraint chair with one arm free when he banged his food tray against a cell door, then knocked a shock gun from Yager’s hand. Angered, Yager assaulted the detainee until another deputy persuaded him to stop, according to court documents.

He would face up to 3 1/2 years in prison under a plea agreement.

Yager, 29, is the second former Van Zandt County deputy to plead guilty this month to using excessive force.

Earlier this month, former chief deputy Steven Craig Shelton pleaded guilty to a similar civil rights violation arising from a separate incident last September. He would face almost four years in federal prison under his plea deal.

Sheriff Steve Hendrix resigned in April after indictments accused him and two other deputies of lying about Shelton’s actions. Hendrix, whose attorneys contend is not guilty, still awaits trial.