On Christmas Day, 1987, a law-abiding black man with a wife and six children went on what should have been a brief errand. He was stopped by a white police chief in a small Texas town near the Louisiana border, taken to jail, and beaten to death with a lead-filled blackjack. Award-winning journalist Howard Swindle, himself a Texan, draws on his personal knowledge to tell a spellbinding tale about the local law-enforcement and criminal-justice systems, both before and during this landmark case. "As if the 70-foot-tall pines were an impenetrable social barrier," Swindle writes, "Deep East Texas lies stagnant in a civil rights time warp, more forties and fifties than eighties and nineties." The New York Times
praised "the author's compelling storytelling [that] enriches every page of this nonfiction thriller."
Also recommended: Swindle's Edgar-Award-nominated Trespasses: Portrait of a Serial Rapist.
From Publishers Weekly
On Dec. 25, 1987, Loyal Garner Jr., a law-abiding black man who lived in Louisiana with his wife and six children, drove into Sabine County, Tex., with two friends. All three were arrested, although they were not told the charges. In the Hemphill, Tex., jail Garner was beaten unconscious by three officers; the next morning he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Tyler, where he died a day later. Hemphill Police Chief Thomas Ladner had a reputation for abusing prisoners, but when he and his two assistants were arrested, the white community closed ranks behind them. The trial of the three officers for violating Garner's civil rights was held in Hemphill, where they were acquitted. The second trial, for murder, however, was held in Tyler, where all three were found guilty and received sentences of 10 to 28 years. The appeal of Ladner, who had drawn the longest sentence, was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court; appeals by the other two are pending. Swindle ( Once a Hero ), an editor at the Dallas Morning News , has written a devastating report about a segment of society he views as inbred, ignorant, racist, self-deluding and hypocritical.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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