Elderick Brass, a former prison guard, is charged with a felony for allegedly releasing a video of another guard firing a tear gas canister at an inmate in May 2015 inside the Pam Lynchner State Jail in Atascocita, Texas (video below).
Brass' lawyer, Michael Nguyen, recently told KTRK that the criminal charge was retaliation by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) against Brass for allegedly passing the prison tear gassing video to the news station in August 2015.
The TDCJ gave its version of the incident in August 2015 after the video was made public: "Two groups of offenders displayed aggression towards each other and refused orders to return to their bunks in a housing area. After numerous orders were issued and many offenders failed to comply with instructions, authorization was given to use chemical agents to prevent the disturbance from escalating further."
Brass told KTRK at the time that some Hispanic inmates feared being attacked by African-American inmates, so they refused to go to their beds.
The TDCJ officials confirmed that the African-American inmates had threatened the Hispanic inmates.
However, the prison guards did nothing to stop the threats, but rather ordered the Hispanic inmates to move away from a door, which they did.
The inmates were not aggressive toward the guards, but Lt. Cody Waller shot a tear gas canister into the group of inmates, which struck one prisoner in the chest and burst into flames.
The inmate suffered burns and other injuries, and had to be treated at a local hospital, but the TDCJ said the prisoner suffered only "minor injuries."
The TDCJ does not refer to tear gas as a chemical weapon, but rather as "chemical agents."
The TDCJ said in August 2015 that a review of the incident "revealed several mistakes" including using an outdoor tear gas canister indoors. The TDCJ also said that "chemical agents should have been administered through the door rather than in the middle of the housing area."
As punishment for firing tear gas canister, Wallner was placed on probation for 10 months, but kept his job and was not charged.
Brass told KTRK in August 2015 that the tear gas shooting was "unacceptable."
The TDCJ insisted that the tear gas was used (on the Hispanic inmates who are standing still in the video) to "prevent the disturbance from escalating further."
Brass was indicted for Misuse of Official Information on Dec. 8, 2016 -- more than a year after the incident.
A new Harris County District Attorney, Kim Ogg, has since taken over the job of prosecuting Brass.
A spokesperson for Ogg recently told KTRK: "We are certainly looking at all aspects of the case, and reviewing evidence to make sure this has an appropriate resolution."