Jan 24, 2005
Tom Coleman was an undercover cop in Tulia, Texas in l998. He arrested 46 adults, 39 of them black, on falsified charges of drug dealing. That was 13% of Tulia's adult black population! On his word alone, with no supporting evidence, all-white Texas juries convicted 38. Twenty-two of those were sentenced to jail – their sentences totaling 750 years – and the rest sentenced to probation.
It took three years of work by organized families and friends of the victims before the media and finally the Texas courts looked into the case. It was so clearly a travesty that the Texas governor eventually issued a pardon for those convicted – after those in jail had served three and a half years.
Despite his 46 false arrests, 38 false imprisonments, and countless violations of civil rights, ex-officer Tom Coleman was charged only with one count of perjury – and that in an unrelated case! On January 18, he was sentenced to what? A fine of $7500 and ten years probation!
Why such a small sentence for such an atrocious crime? The Texas authorities say it's because the statute of limitations on perjury runs out in Texas after two years.
Maybe – but those are not the only things he could have been charged with. In fact, the sentencing of Coleman is just another in a long history of Texas-style justice.
The man from Texas sitting today in the White House bellows long and loud about freedom and liberty. But it doesn't apply in his old home state – as the Tulia travesty more than proves.