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Commissioner Manny Ramirez addresses demand by family of Anthony Johnson Jr. to release full video

Janell Johnson, Anthony Johnson Jr.'s sister, speaks during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Miranda Suarez
Anthony Johnson Jr.'s family has demanded that officials release the full video recorded inside the Tarrant County Jail.

Pleas to release the full video of Anthony Johnson Jr.’s death continued during Tuesday's Tarrant County Commissioners meeting.

The months-long controversy added a new chapter when Commissioner Manny Ramirez celebrated the retirement of Charles Eckert, the county jail's former executive chief deputy.

The proclamation received criticism from some in the audience, including Johnson’s family.

Johnson's sisters Janell and Chanell, along with his mother Jacqualyne, addressed Ramirez directly during public comments.

Jacqualyne once again called for the release of the full jail video to the public.

"When you review that video, envision your child's face on my son, then ask yourself if you still support (Sherriff Bill Waybourn)" said Jacqualyne. "Since you think he is doing a wonderful job, your words are hollow. My family and I will continue to fight until the dynamics of that jail are changed and there is accountability."

Jacqualyne Johnson also urged County Judge Tim O'Hare to apologize to her daughter Janell after she was escorted out from the last commissioners meeting.

“Mr. O’Hare, you had my daughter removed from this court last time,” said Jacqualyne. “But was she wrong? My son's death was in fact ruled a homicide. She was right.”

Janell Johnson did not want an apology. Instead, she expressed her disappointment for Ramirez’s proclamation earlier that morning.

“I know what my mother said about you owing me an apology; I don't want it,” said Johnson. “The fact that (Eckert) could come up here with his regular clothes and not address us about what is happening is despicable.”

Chanell commended Precinct 2 Commissioner Alisa Simmons with her handling of Johnson’s death.

“Thank you, Ms. Simmons, for being the only one that truly cares about the inmates,” said Johnson. “You’re the only one that truly has spoken out and has just really shown that you're not up here just to be a commissioner. You're here to fight for us. I really want to thank you for that.”

Simmons has publicly called for the release of the video.

Ramirez believes that there should be transparency regarding jail incidents but argues that the commissioners have no authority on the release of the full video.

“The issue here is the lines of authority,” Ramirez said after the commissioners meeting. “I'm not certain that the Commissioners Court has the authority to do that. But what I'm a champion for is radical transparency. I think that we need to reevaluate our policies to make sure when something like this happens, the public knows exactly what to expect.”

Johnson's mother claims that Ramirez has yet sent his condolences regarding his death, but Ramirez said after the commissioners' meeting he is willing to meet with the Johnson family.

“We have the same goals,” said Ramirez. “I certainly would not be opposed to sitting down with anybody, especially the family of Mr. Johnson. So, absolutely. I would welcome that.”

The sheriff’s office maintains that the video cannot be released while there's an ongoing investigation.

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is KERA's summer 2024 SPJ news intern. Got a tip? Email Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela at

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Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies at the University of Texas at El Paso. Emmanuel has worked at his school’s paper The Prospector and the sister publication Minero Magazine. Most recently, Emmanuel interned with the non-profit news site El Paso Matters and McClatchy. Emmanuel expects to graduate this December.