Bastrop Co. deputy indicted on murder charge in deadly shooting

Daniel James Willis
Daniel James Willis

BASTROP, Texas (KXAN) — A Bastrop County grand jury indicted a sheriff’s deputy on murder charges following a deadly shooting in February.

Daniel Willis, 29, was booked into the Bastrop County Jail on Tuesday, and bond was set at $100,000. He bonded out of jail on Wednesday.

Willis shot and killed 47-year-old Yvette Smith when responding to a call on Feb. 16.

According to an autopsy report, Smith was shot in the left lower abdomen and the left buttock.

A toxicology report showed Smith had a 0.10 blood alcohol concentration but no other drugs in her system.

According to the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office, Willis responded to a disturbance at a home in the 100 block of Zimmerman Avenue.

Upon arrival, the two men who were fighting were separated, but one was still inside the home with several other people. The Sheriff’s Office said the patrol deputies tried to make contact with the other people in the home, but no one came out.

Yvette Smith
Yvette Smith

In an initial statement, authorities said Smith was armed and disregarded the deputy’s commands when she came out of the home, which resulted in the deputy firing the shots. But the next day, the Sheriff’s Office retracted that statement saying that they “cannot confirm at this time that the female victim was armed with any type of firearm or other weapon at the time of the incident or that she intentionally disregarded any type of officer commands.”

The Texas Rangers took over the investigation and could not speak further about the investigation, which is not yet closed.

Bastrop County Sheriff Terry Pickering said in a statement on Tuesday that Willis has been terminated from his position at the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s sad that it happend that way,” said Willie Thomas, who was Smith’s boyfriend and lives at the house where the deadly shooting happened. “[She was a] friendly person and a joyful person. She was the type of person that, you know, if anybody needed help, she would make them feel at home, just like you had known her for years.”

Thomas said the arrest of the deputy is a step in the right direction.

“I think it’ll bring closure to the family. I know it definitely will bring closure to me. But still, we still have a space there,” said Thomas.

Officers suspended for tampering with documents after deadly shooting

A lieutenant and sergeant with the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Department were demoted and suspended in March for tampering with records following the shooting.

An investigation following the shooting found supervisors within the department had modified Willis’ field training records. The changes were made in an effort to make sure the records were completed accurately, Sheriff Terry Pickering said.

“I honestly don’t believe there was any ill-will or malice,” Pickering said in March. “They knew the records were not up to date prior to the incident and were in the process of correcting them.”

Lt. Joey Dzienowski was demoted to patrol duty and given a 240-hour suspension, and Sgt. David Repka was demoted to patrol duty and given a 32-hour suspension.

 

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