Bastrop Shooting Suspects Get Attorneys(August – 17 – 2007)  VIDEO

BASTROP (TV8) – Also today – Alex Brendle and Chrystal Harrell went before a Morehouse Parish judge.
They are two of the three suspects charged with helping Tonya Smith get away… after the shootings of Detectives Smith and Wilson.
TV-8’s Dustin Barnes was at the courthouse today, and met with Toyna Smith’s appointed attorney:

Alex Brendle of Mer Rouge and Crystal Harrell of Collinston left the Morehouse Parish Courthouse after both pled “not guilty” to charges over last Friday’s shootout in which two Bastrop police detectives died along with their accused killer.Two emergency medical technicians were wounded in the shootout at the Budget Inn in downtown Bastrop.

Brendle and Harrell are both charged with two counts of accessory after the fact to first degree murder, two counts of accessory after the fact to attempted first degree murder, and obstruction of justice.


Brendle is also charged with possession of stolen property and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Judge Scott Leehy set bond for Brendle at one-million dollars, and for Harrell at 350-thousand.

A third suspect–Michael Coleman of Bastrop–will be arraigned next week. All three are represented by indigent defenders.

Asst. District Attorney Dion Young says “they were appointed judges and attorneys and the other individual Coleman will be in the courtroom Tuesday with his attorney Murray.”

Meanwhile, Monroe Attorney Louis Scott has been appointed to represent Tonya Smith, the girlfriend of Dennis Clem, the man accused of killing the detectives. The couple was wanted for questioning in connection with a double homicide last month in the Houston area.

Both Clem and Alex Brendle are reputed members of a white supremacist group called the Aryan Circle.

Tonya Smith fled Bastrop after last Friday’s shootout but was caught Sunday by a U-S Marshal’s Task Force in Harris County, Texas.

Tonya Smith, charged with two counts of first degree murder, is now in a Texas jail awaiting extradition to Louisiana.

Louis Scott says “I have been verbally notified that i will represent her.”

Scott says based on the facts, it’s doubtful Tonya Smith can be convicted of first degree murder.

Scott says “I read a report that she reported the incident to the hotel clerk and asked the hotel clerk to call 911 so that doesn’t sound like the reaction of someone who was guilty or wanted someone to be killed.”

(Reporter standup:)
Scott says based on Smith’s nationality, it is unlikely that she is a member of the white supremacist group The Aryan Circle. However, if she is, it would have no relevance to the case. The case would be based on if she committed the crime.

Scott says “it doesn’t seem logically because she is alleged to be Hispanic and or American Indian origin so i doubt seriously that someone of that background would be a member of a white supremacist group.”

Scott says he is unaware when Smith will be brought back Bastrop for arraignment.

He says a Texas judge has given her 14 days to be extradited.

Dustin Barnes, TV8 News

Smith set a lifelong example of dedication and friendship

Published: Saturday, August 18, 2007 3:29 PM CDT
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For those who had the privilege to know him, Detective Sgt. John Smith’s devotion to service and family was matched only by his loyalty in friendship.

The world has many different ways of saying good-bye, the Rev. David Campbell, Jr. told the audience who gathered to pay their respects at First Baptist Church on Saturday morning. Smith and Detective Sgt. Chuck Wilson were killed by a member of a white supremacist group on Aug. 10 at the Best Budget Inn. The suspect believed to be responsible for shooting the detectives died in a later exchange of gunfire with police officers.

But how do you say good-bye? As simple as it is, good-bye is a hard word to say to a great detective, husband, father and friend,” Campbell said.


People who knew Smith can say good-bye with grace and strength, Campbell concluded.

Bastrop Mayor Clarence Hawkins drew a parallel between the friendship of Smith and fellow Detective Sgt. Chuck Wilson, and the coming together of citizens to memorialize both men.

“John and Chuck gave us an example of working together, and it’s phenomenal and amazing that they departed together,” Hawkins said, adding that the service was “an historic moment for Bastrop, in more ways than one.”

Hawkins thanked Smith’s wife, Leslie, for sharing him with the community and asked the audience for a standing round of applause for Smith’s performance on the stage of public duty.

Bastrop Police Chief Allen Freeman described Smith as “one of the finest officers I’ve known,” a man who loved life and was dedicated to work and family.

“If I had a hundred officers like him, this town wouldn’t know crime,” Freeman said.


Freeman added he couldn’t talk about Smith as a co-worker apart from Smith as a friend.

“He was just awesome. John and Chuck were always putting their lives in harm’s way when someone needed help,” Freeman said. “John was always there for anyone who needed him.”

Speaking on behalf of the police department, Freeman said, “We stand together, and we feel the pain together.”


Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Mike Tubbs told a story that illustrated both Smith’s professionalism and his sense of humor. In the early days of both their careers, Tubbs recalled riding patrol with Smith one night in a brand new squad car.

“This young man ran into us, and we didn’t have a warrant on him, but John was sure he had done something. So we took him into custody. Then we couldn’t get the car to move. It turned out the guy had cut all four tires. I looked in the back seat, and John was already sentencing the guy,” Tubbs said as the audience laughed.

“John was a winner,” Tubbs added. “When he left to go the hotel that day, he was still a winner.”


The Rev. Steven Conley encouraged Smith’s friends and family to emulate the example set by Smith, and to find hope in the faith they share.

“Someday there is going to be a reunion,” Conley said. “We will see John again.”

Bastrop, Louisiana is a city of twelve-thousand.   But, we must realize that our society is in a state of extreme flux.  On both ends of the pole, blacks & whites are flexing there muscles of determination.  On the one hand white folk are attempting to regain, in a stealth kind of way the ground that was lost during & since the sixties.  We, as black folk don’t believe the struggle was ever over, and recent events such as Jena, says that it wasn’t finished.   The connection between Jena, Louisiana & the Bastrop Police shootings is the fact that the young white woman who got from Bastrop after Clem blasted her way out of the city limits.

[From the Bastrop Enterprise – August 17, 2007]

“Three suspects arrested as accessories in the shooting deaths of two detectives with the Bastrop Police Department might learn today whether they will be released on bond.The 4th District Attorney’s Office asked District Court Judge Scott Leehy on Tuesday that the trio be held without bond for aiding a suspect in the shooting deaths of Detective Sgt. John Smith and Detective Sgt. Chuck Wilson flee the area after the officers were slain. Donald Alex Brendle, 31, of Mer Rouge, Michael L. Coleman, 38, from Bastrop and Chrystal L. Harrell, 37, from Collinston were taken into custody on Friday evening and later charged with being accessories after the fact in the first-degree murder of a police officer and obstruction of justice.Investigators allege Brendle, Coleman and Harrell helped Tanya Smith escape from the area after Smith’s boyfriend, Dennis Clem, allegedly shot and killed the officers.”Neighbors Shocked Over Three People Arrested in Bastrop Police Murders(August – 13 – 2007)  VIDEO

BASTROP (TV8) – State police today confirmed Dennis Clem–the man accused of gunning down two Bastrop detectives on Friday–was a member of the Aryan Circle… white supremicist group.The FBI says the Aryan Circle is a splinter group of the Texas Aryan Brotherhood… and functions mainly within the Texas prison system… providing protection for white inmates.What relationship exists between Clem, his girlfriend Tonya Smith, and three Northeast Louisiana residents arrested in connection with Friday’s shootout remains unclear.Today, some of those close to the arrested locals told TV8’s Dustin Barnes not all of them were so well acquainted with the Texas couple.
36-year-old sherman kimball lived at this home in the 73-hundred block of James Chunn Road in Bastrop with 38-year-old Michael Coleman….a full week before his roomate was arrested.Coleman, along with Crystal Harrell of Collinston, and Donald “Alex” Brendle of Mer Rouge, have been booked in the Morehouse Parish Jail for helping Dennis Clem’s girlfriend–Tanya Smith–leave the Bastrop area, after police say Clem killed two Bastrop detectives before he was killed in a shootout with responding officers.Kimball says he was with Coleman the day of the shootings.Sherman Kimball says “He was with me all day Friday evening…we were moving stuff all day out to the new house and we were together all day Friday.”

“he didn’t even know her….he had met her through chrystal…”
Kimball says Coleman had only seen Tanya Smith once, and that was with Crystal Harrell.

Kimball says “he didn’t even know her….he had met her through Chrystal…”

Reporter standup:

Sources tell TV8 that Chrystal Harrell lived in this trailer and she personally knew Tanya Smith.

Harrell’s 16-year-old son…declined to be on camera, but told TV8 News about his mother’s relationship with Smith.

The son says “she met her once or twice and my mom said she didn’t like her.”

Harrell’s son says his mom met Smith through Alex Brendle, who was his mom’s boyfriend. Police connected his mom and Smith as friends when police saw Harrell’s car at the budget hotel.

The son says “they saw her car over there…over there at the hotel when Alex went to see them people.”

Harrell’s son has not talked to his mother since her arrest, but says Alex told him Tanya Smith held her at gunpoint, forcing Harrell to drive her to Olla, where she apparently found a ride to Harris County, Texas.

In Bastrop, Dustin Barnes, TV8 News.

Mission Statement
The Decency Initiative of the National Action Network, led by Tamika Mallory, was established in order to address standards in the media and entertainment industries. The Initiative’s initial goal is to eliminate the use of three words in music and media; the “N” word, the “B” word and the “H” word, which are a blatant disrespect to women and the African American community. The overall goal is to establish a single standard that will be adopted by media and entertainment entities that will respect all people regardless of race, gender and sexual orientation. The Initiative is targeting record labels, major corporations and media conglomerates that continue to profit from racism and sexism. The Initiative is leading a national effort to educate consumers on corporate policies, purchasing power and consumer rights and will mobilize consumers towards direct protest of companies who support the degradation of any group.

This cartoon on the editorial page of Friday’s Florida Times-Union generated strong reaction from readers and the leader of the NAACP.

Times-Union Editor Regrets Offensive Word In Cartoon
Readers, NAACP Complain To Newspaper
UPDATED: 12:35 pm EDT August 20, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An editorial cartoon taking shot at those who fail to turn in violent criminals generated controversy, then a response from the Florida Times-Union.The cartoon appeared on the editorial page of Friday’s newspaper with a caption saying, “The new rule of law.” It shows what appears to be a man shot, and a gunman standing over the victim wearing shirts reading “Don’t Snitch.”Two young children depicted in the cartoon say “I didn’t see nuttin’!” Then the gunman says, “Now that’s a good little ho!” 

The cartoon generated controversy on two levels: for using the slang word that got Don Imus fired from his nationally syndicated radio and television shows and for sending the wrong message. The president of the local chapter of the NAACP said he found both the picture and the words offensive. “I was stunned about it,” said Isaiah Rumlin, president of the local NAACP chapter.

“I was outraged.” Rumlin said he took calls from at least 20 angry people who also found this cartoon offensive. He said he called the newspaper and expressed his concern to publisher Carl Cannon. “We’re going to see how we can work together and alleviate this type of language in the paper,” Rumlin told Channel 4.

In Sunday’s newspaper, editorial page editor Mike Clark was quoted as saying he reviewed and approved the cartoon by longtime Times-Union cartoonist Ed Gamble.” Using the word ‘ho’ was bad judgment, and I regret that I did not edit it out,” Clark told the newspapers reader advocate. “The object of the cartoon was to comment on the rise of a no-snitching culture, something that is widely in the news today. There was certainly no intent to offend the many law-abiding Jacksonville citizens.”


Gamble told the reader advocate that the term “ho” is demeaning to women, but said, “I was making a point that rappers are demeaning to women.” In the background of the cartoon is a billboard displaying: “Rap your life away.”

The comments in Sunday’s newspaper came after complaints about the cartoon flooded into both the newspaper and Channel 4. “Why would you even put something like that in the paper in the first place?” one resident told the local station’s Jennifer Bauer.”That’s not comical at all,” another newspaper reader said. “That’s poor teaching of children.”

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