Abilene chief defends handling of Jones County deputy's arrest

Deputy placed on leave without pay after April 25 Abilene incident

Abilene police respond to questions about shooting incident involving Jones Co. deputy

ABILENE, Texas - Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge on Friday explained why a Jones County deputy wasn't arrested until several days after she allegedly shot three times at a truck that had her love interest inside.

Meanwhile, the Jones County Sheriff's Department has placed the deputy -- 26-year-old Stephanie Renee Fenner -- on administrative leave without pay in the wake of the April 25 incident.

Fenner was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon Monday after being picked up at the Jones County Sheriff's Office. Her arrest came three days after she allegedly fired three shots at two people in the pickup, including one who was in a "dating relationship with Fenner," an Abilene Police Department news release said Thursday.

"There is no cover up," Standridge said Friday. "We are trying to be as transparent as possible. It's very important to recognize that courts hold officers accountable to what they knew at that time ... The officers didn't know that this was an aggravated assault Friday night (April 25). They didn't know this until Saturday (April 26)."

No one was injured in the incident that occurred about 11 p.m. Friday, April 25 – at a 7-Eleven convenience store – near the intersection of Old Anson Road and North Clack Street.

Apparently Fenner and two others had been drinking at a North Abilene residence. Fenner was being driven home when she jumped out of the vehicle at an intersection and started firing at the truck. 

Standridge said an unidentified officer found Fenner walking along Old Anson, apparently intoxicated, and attempted to detain her. According to police, Fenner charged the officer, who then used a TASER to take her to the ground. She was then handcuffed.

After being detained, Fenner underwent a mental health evaluation at the Law Enforcement Center, Standridge said. She was determined to not be suicidal. Her father -- a retired Abilene police officer -- and mother asked that she be released to them instead of being booked into jail. An APD supervisor granted the request, Standridge said.

Standridge reiterated that officers didn't know Fenner had allegedly committed an aggravated assault late last Friday. They didn't see a gun on her and instead were concerned about Fenner's mental health because she was believed to be suicidal, so charges weren't filed immediately, Standridge said.

It wasn't until 12:31 p.m. Saturday, April 26, that one of the victims contacted a dispatch officer with APD. That's when a "day officer" kicked off the investigation. He contacted the department's Criminal Investigation Division, whose detectives gathered enough probable cause evidence to arrest Fenner on Monday night, April 28,  at the Jones County Sheriff's Department.

Standridge acknowledged his officers should have gone back to question the clerk, in hindsight, and that may have led to the questioning of the two victims after last Friday's incident.

Standridge confirmed Fenner's handgun was found in the possession of an unidentified Jones County resident. He declined to disclose who it was with and how the handgun ended up there.

After being booked, Fenner was released from jail after posting $35,000 bail.

On Thursday, Danny Jimenez – chief deputy for Jones County Sheriff's Department – said his agency was aware of the incident Saturday, April 26, when Fenner asked for and was granted paid sick leave. Jimenez said no charges had been filed by Abilene police at that time she was granted the leave.

Additionally, Jimenez said Fenner had no history of issues in the Jones County Sheriff's Department. That was before this week when, on Friday, the Jones County Sheriff's Department placed Fenner on administrative leave without pay.

Standridge said additional charges could be filed against Fenner and some Jones County employees and residents for their involvement in the case.

Once again, Standridge said, "There is no cover up here."

"I could care less that the defendant is a Jones County deputy," Standridge said. "Nobody is above the law. We will investigate this. We will hold everybody accountable and present our findings to the district attorney."

Standridge said any officers or supervisors who are determined to have violated policy or completed an incomplete investigation will be counseled or reprimanded. However, no disciplinary action had been taken as of late Friday.

The investigation continues.

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