Hollis Daniels III, a former Texas Tech student known for his alleged role in the shooting death of Tech police officer Floyd East Jr., has remained in law enforcement custody since Oct. 9, 2017.
The Tech campus was placed on lockdown at 8:23 p.m. on Oct. 9, 2017. A follow-up message was sent through TechAlert! at 8:51 p.m. stating the situation was ongoing and advising those on campus to stay on lockdown. This was followed by another update at 9:20 p.m. stating the subject shot an officer and fled on foot. The all-clear message came at 9:34 p.m.
Daniels, a 19-year-old living in Talkington Hall at the time of the shooting, was taken into custody after allegedly being in possession of a controlled substance, according to Lubbock Police Department documents from Oct. 9, 2017. Campus officers transported Daniels back to the Tech Police Department where East was completing booking paperwork for Daniels’ arrest for a controlled substance.
“(Corporal Tyler Snelson) advised East was completing paperwork at the computers in the briefing room,” according to LPD documents. “Officer East was facing the computers while Hollis Daniels was facing in the opposite direction. … were slightly offset from each other. At the time, Hollis Daniels was not wearing handcuffs.”
Snelson then left the briefing room and went to an office nearby, according to the LPD documents. Shortly after, he heard a bang from the briefing room. He went back and found East with an apparent gunshot wound and Daniels no longer in the room.
“Officer East’s police body camera was missing, and Officer East’s pistol was in his holster,” according to LPD documents. “Hollis Daniels was located near 2720 Drive of Champions, City Bank Coliseum, where he was subsequently taken into custody.”
When Daniels was taken into custody, a loaded .45 caliber pistol was found near his person in a box with other refuse, according to the LPD documents. Daniels stated to officers that he was the one that shot their friend, that he “f***ed up,” then stated he did “something illogical.”
Immediately on the day of the incident, an arrest warrant was filed for Daniels for intentionally or knowingly causing the death of East by shooting him, according to the arrest warrant. Daniels’ original bond was set for $5 million on a felony charge of capital murder of a police officer/firefighter.
In the following days, the Grand Jury of the United States of America charged Daniels with one count of possession of a stolen firearm, according to court documents from 2017. The firearm was later found to be a Springfield Model XD45, a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.
In November of 2017, Judge John McClendon issued a gag order for the case. Patrick Metze, professor of law at the Tech School of Law, said as time progresses, the general public will become less familiar with the case, making it more likely to be able to seat a jury.
Too much media publicity on a case could potentially prejudice a jury, Metze said.
However, Metze said lawyers are ethically bound to not speak in a negatively or positively way that might influence a jury's outcome or someone's participation on a jury. By definition, a gag order is a judge's order that a case may not be discussed in public. A gag order is put in place for a couple reasons.
“A gag order is when a judge says, ‘Y’all be quiet,’” Metze said.
One reason a gag order is used is to protect privacy, prevent harm to suspects, prisoners, witnesses, victims or to protect national security. Additionally, it is used to safeguard a defendant's right to a fair trial, ensuring the court has the ability to seat a jury that has not been tainted, according to the legal dictionary.
“[A gag order] puts the lawyers on notice that the judge is watching,” Metze said.
Metze thinks it is an unusual step but does not imagine anyone will challenge it, he said. Additionally, it takes the pressure off of lawyers to speak about the case.
A gag order can be considered unconstitutional if a judge’s discretion is over the line, Metze said. However, in the case of Daniels, it is likely that none of the lawyers will attempt to get another court to overturn it.
The Lubbock District Attorney and the 137th District Court Judge John McClendon were both unavailable to comment.