A Texas father has been found not guilty in a property theft case going back to September 2013 after taking his daughter’s cell phone away as a punishment, resulting in a night in jail and his family relationship destroyed forever.
Ronald Jackson, 36, had taken his 12-year-old daughter’s iPhone 4 away because she was allegedly sending “inappropriate” texts about trying to organize an attack on another minor.
A few hours later, officers from the Grand Prairie Police Department arrived on the scene and asked Jackson to hand over the phone, which he refused to do so.
“I didn’t want the police department telling me how to parent my child. It made no sense to me for them to show up and make a big deal out of something that was a small thing. I couldn’t believe they would go to this extent for a cell phone. It didn’t seem right.”
The mother of the 12-year-old girl, who was never married to Jackson and is now the wife of a Grand Prairie police officer, Michelle Steppe, claimed that she called the police when her daughter’s phone was taken because she had bought it, according to WFAA. Steppe explained:
“As a mom, I’m upset because — number one — the property belongs to me.
“You can’t take someone’s property, regardless if you’re a parent or not.”
Jackson, however, refused to give it up.
Three months later, Jackson received a citation in the mail and turned down a plea deal that would include him handing over the phone, resulting in the Dallas County District Attorney increasing the theft charges to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a $2,000 fine and six months in jail.
Over a year later, an arrest warrant was issued and Jackson, who had no knowledge of the warrant, was arrested in April 2015 at his home at 2 a.m. and taken into custody, where he spent one night in jail. He posted a cash bail of $1,500 to get out.
After a two-day trial, Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Lisa Green ordered the jury to rule Jackson not guilty, saying the state had failed to provide sufficient evidence for the case.
Jackson told CBS:
“Why would you need to go arrest somebody for something like that? Don’t you have better things to do as a police officer? Aren’t there bigger crimes in the city to go take care of?”
Now, Jackson claims, the entire ordeal has destroyed his relationship with his daughter, now 15, and her mother. Jackson’s daughter was required to testify in court. He told WFAA8:
“I have to separate myself from them. I can’t ever have a relationship with them again.”
Jackson now plans to file a federal complaint for civil rights violations against the city attorney’s office and the Grand Prairie Police Department. Jackson also still has possession of the iPhone 4.