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Dallas DA Considering Charges Against Ebola Patient And Family He Stayed With

Craig Watkins/Facebook
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins says he may file charges against the Liberian man who brought Ebola to Dallas.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins says he’s considering whether to prosecute the Liberian man who brought the Ebola virus to Dallas.

Watkins made his comments at the KXAS-TV (NBC5) studios, during the taping of Sunday’s "Lone Star Politics" program.

Liberian authorities say that as he left the country Thomas Eric Duncan lied about having contact with an Ebola patient, so the government there plans to prosecute Duncan when he returns.

Watkins says his office may also file criminal charges, though he’s not sure what those charges would be.

“We are actively having discussions as to whether or not we need to look into this as it relates to a criminal matter,” Watkins said.

“We’re working with all the different agencies to get to the bottom of it and if it warrants a Dallas County prosecution then we will pursue it. But it may be more of a federal issue.”

Watkins added that his office may also pursue criminal charges against the four family members Duncan was staying with in Dallas.

There is concern the family members are at risk for contracting Ebola, so authorities asked them to remain at home. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says they ignored that request, which is why an official quarantine was ordered and law enforcement are posted at the apartment to enforce it. (On Friday afternoon, the family members were moved to another location.) 

Watkins, a Democrat running for reelection, was debating his Republican opponent Susan Hawk when he talked about potential criminal charges in the Ebola case.

She agreed. “If it comes down to a criminal cases where individuals committed a crime, they should be prosecuted," she said.

The two candidates, locked in a bare-knuckle race, didn’t agree about much else.  

Watch the entire debate between Watkins and Hawk on “Lone Star Politics” Sunday at 8:40 a.m. on KXAS-TV (NBC5).

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.