Constable Barnes offers free ‘can shooter’ training: ‘Mexicans and Africans’

(Or, why commissioners must not fund deputies for constables)

The Sandstorm Scholar has already noted Jody Barnes’ proclivity for language most find abhorrent. That incident took place before Barnes was elected Constable Precinct 2. However Constable Barnes is no better an actor than citizen Barnes. His penchant for bigoted speech hasn’t changed.

The complete story is best told in the dispassionate language of Lubbock County Human Resources Director, Greg George* in the report attached to his January 8 email to county commissioners. It too ugly to tell any other way. The Sandstorm Scholar obtained the George report via an open records request to Lubbock County; we have redacted the employee’s name and identifying information. You can read the report by clicking here: George report.

The constable … explained a can shooter shoots ‘Mexicans and Africans.’

The gist of the report is this: At a December 2018 Christmas Party, held during business hours and on county time, Constable Barnes offered one of the Justice of the Peace Pct 2 clerks (apparently not all of them) a free CHL class. The clerk resisted but Barnes persisted. He told her she could be a “can shooter.” The constable, being quite the silver-tongued devil, explained “a can shooter shoots Mexicans and Africans.”

According to the George report, when confronted about the matter, Barnes shoved a chair so hard it damaged the wall. I wonder who paid for that?

Barnes’s defense? A predictable variant of the “some of my best friends are Africans and Mexicans” excuse.

… did Barnes imagine himself a “can shooter” that night?

Is this the attitude and behavior we hope for from someone who is empowered to take life, liberty or property in the name of the law? The constable is a civil rights lawsuit waiting for a place to happen.

Constable Barnes did not respond to our request for explanation or comment but unlike last time, he did not threaten to arrest the journalist for asking.

It is noteworthy that Constable Barnes hadn’t been in office a year before he was involved in a shots fired incident when he showed uninvited to an address where Lubbock police officers were serving a warrant. 

… given Barnes’s mouth is as reckless as his aim it is almost certainly best for all involved that he missed.

According to LPD sources, the official report reflects the suspect Barnes fired at that night was an “Hispanic male.” It is fair to ask, did Barnes imagine himself a “can shooter” that night? “Mexicans and Africans” the constable said. 

Constable Pct 2 Jody Barnes (source: Constable Pct 2 Facebook page)

There exists no evidence, other than his own ill-advised speech, to suggest Barnes’s officer involved shooting actions were maliciously motivated and we do not here suggest they were. But given Barnes’s mouth is as reckless as his aim it is almost certainly best for all involved that he missed.

We have mentioned before the absence of accountability as it regards the office of constable. There’s no report from Barnes on the shooting incident. He didn’t make one. Can you imagine in the 21st century a peace officer firing his weapon in the line of duty and making no report or record of the incident? Have gun will travel … just reload and go wherever the police radio leads you.

No standards. No restraints. Just a small man with a gun, a badge and delusions of grandeur. It is a frightening combination with the potential for getting someone killed.

If Constable Barnes is allowed a deputy, what kind of deputy will he hire? Someone who laughs at his jokes, of course.

Is this who voters want representing them? Evicting tenants? Conducting traffic stops? Making life- and-death decisions about Lubbock County citizens? And chasing every police call like an Adrenalin junkie always looking for the next fix? In only a few months, November, filing opens for a place on the ballot for constable. Voters of Precinct 2 get another chance at getting this one right.

Now, you may ask what all of this has to do with whether Lubbock County Commissioners should fund deputies for constables? 

Assume for a moment what comes out of Constable Barnes’s mouth does not proceed from his heart. Pretend, if you can, he sees all people equally. View it with me in the very best light: as a stupid joke not reflective of any bias. With that perspective, if Constable Barnes is allowed a deputy, what kind of deputy will he hire? Someone who laughs at his jokes, of course.

After all, Constable Barnes is funny. Deadly funny.

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*I must footnote this column with an apology to the Lubbock County Director of Human Resources, Greg George. I have been critical of George’s proximity to the Medical Examiner office scandals. I’ve even gone so far as attributing his behavior to fearfulness. And that opinion, like most of mine, has hardly been confidential.

But a cowardly person doesn’t memorialize something he knows will make an enemy of an elected official with anger issues, who carries a gun under the color of law and who is certain to be in office for the next two years. Whatever George’s reasons for actions with which I have issue, this is evidence the Lubbock County Human Resources Director is a person of courage and I gratefully acknowledge it.