News6 Investigates


Exclusive: Sandia family speaks out against Orange Grove Police officer

Orange Grove Police Officer traffic stop
Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-20 23:35:43-04

SANDIA, Texas — A December interaction with an Orange Grove Police Officer has the family of a teen speaking out.

"I was so scared for my son's life," Tiffany Chandler said in an exclusive interview with 6 Investigates. "You could never put yourself in that situation as a parent until it actually happens."

6 Investigates obtained body camera footage from the incident on Dec. 14 at 6:09 p.m., when the Orange Grove officer began a traffic stop on a county road with no shoulder.

In the 18-minute video, that officer is seen pulling his gun and handcuffing that teen accused of speeding — telling him he is under arrest for evading police.

The video also shows 16-year-old Landon Chandler attempting to explain to the officer why it took nearly 1.5 miles to pull over after the officer initiated the traffic stop.

Chandler said the traffic stop began on County Road 738 in a section without shoulders, and ended at County Road 3061, which was the first right-hand turn after the initiation of the stop.

"So I took the first right-hand turn," Chandler said. "I had, I pulled over, turned the car off, hands on the steering wheel, and he walked up with his gun, telling me 'hands out the window.' I started getting out of the car. He grabs me, put me against the car, cuffed me, put me in the back of his car.

"I was scared — I was just going to do what he said, until he started telling me to unbuckle my seatbelt. I had to double-check everything because I didn't want to get shot," he added.

Family speaks out following Orange Grove Police traffic stop
Tiffany Chandler and her son, Landon Chandler, play body camera footage from a traffic stop by an Orange Grove Police Officer in December.

The teen said that when he saw the red and blue lights, he slowed down to 10 to 15 miles per hour under the speed limit and looked for a place to pull over.

"I tried to explain, my dad was a cop and he told me drive until you find a safe place to pull over. And he told me that’s not how it works," Chandler said. "On that road there’s no shoulder, so I’d have to get all the way over in the grass. I didn’t want him to be in danger — and me to be in danger with cars coming."

KRIS 6 News has chosen not to name the officer because city officials told the family there is not an active investigation into his actions.

6 Investigates reporter Bryan Hofmann also asked the city if there is a pending investigation, but officials refused to answer the question.

Chandler's parents publicly spoke about the incident for the first time this week and said they were doing so because they had tried to resolve it with the city, but made no progress.

They also said their son has been publicly identified by the officer to other teens.

"What he is doing in this town is official oppression, and he is not being corrected or reprimanded for his poor behavior by our chief of police, who has a duty to protect," Tiffany Chandler said during a Wednesday Orange Grove City Council meeting. "I have kept this out of the public for fear that this officer will retaliate against my child, but it is time to stand up for what is right, and to stand up for our community."

Jeremy Chandler told the city council the family isn't interested in filing a lawsuit, but wants to ensure the officer is trained.

"I don’t want to file civil suit; I don’t even want the officer to get in trouble. I want him to know the law and not to violate people's civil rights," he said.

Family speaks out following Orange Grove Police traffic stop
Parents of the teen stopped by an Orange Grove Police Officer in December spoke during public comment of the Orange Grove City Council.

6 Investigates reporter Bryan Hofmann tried to get answers from the mayor and police chief following the meeting, but they refused to answer any questions, citing litigation concerns.

Thursday, the Orange Grove City Attorney said city officials would not respond to any questions about the traffic stop incident — or any others — and directed 6 Investigates to file a Public Information Request.

The teen was not arrested on charges of evading arrest, but after being placed in handcuffs for "evading arrest," a search of his car turned up a nicotine vape. He was cited with a misdemeanor charge of a minor in possession of nicotine or tobacco, which was later dismissed.

A letter sent to the family by the city attorney and obtained by 6 Investigates said the pertinent information had been reviewed regarding the incident.

Jeremy and Tiffany Chandler said the search of the vehicle was not legal, but the city disagrees.

"While the officer elected not to pursue a citation for evading arrest against Landon, which is a felony charge, the officer was certainly in his right to consider such an action given the distance that Landon traveled after being signaled to pull over and refusing to do so," the letter states.

Thursday, KRIS 6 News submitted a Public Information Request asking the city to provide policies governing its officers and will provide updates, once it receives the requested information.

"There are so many cases that you see, mostly on the news, that end in tragedy because a young person does not know to ask, 'Can I unbuckle my seat belt?'" Tiffany Chandler said in an interview with 6 Investigates. "Pull over somewhere safe because it’s the officer's life at stake, not just yours, if you pull over somewhere unsafe. Because we want the officers, at the end of the day, to go home to their family at the end of the day, too."

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