A Hutchinson County Grand Jury handed down an indictment last week on Brian Lee Garton of Fritch for an assault that occurred over the summer in Borger.
As stated in recently unsealed documents, Garton faces a 2nd degree felony charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury for an incident in July that sent City of Borger Director of Public Works Ted B. Dodd to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo in a coma.
According to an anonymous source, Garton was upset with Dodd, his boss, over a payroll dispute on July 25, 2013, and drove to the Public Works office where he confronted Dodd, a sixty year old grandfather of five who has worked for the City of Borger for five years.
Though the facility is equipped with security cameras, a gap in the footage exists for the duration of the confrontation. It is speculated that Garton, an electrician by trade, deactivated the cameras before entering Dodd’s office.
“We believe that he unplugged those cameras,” says Borger City Manager Eddie Edwards. “That has yet to be proven but there is a break in the footage, but I hate to accuse.”
Once inside the office, as reported by an eyewitness, Garton began to argue with Dodd. The specifics of that argument are unclear, but what is clear is that, at some point, Garton, age 42 at the time, began physically attacking Dodd, punching him in the head multiple times and then kicking him in the face before Martin Crump of the Parks Dept. overheard the assault and rushed into Dodd’s office; grabbing Garton and pulling him away from his victim while another bystander phoned 911.
Garton had caught Dodd completely off guard. “Ted never even got out of his chair,” said one eyewitness.
Dodd’s daughter, Kristin Griswold of Borger, told reporters “[Martin Crump] is the man who hands down saved my dad’s life.”
Griswold called her father “tough as nails but not a fighter by any sense of the word ... he’s never even been in a fight ... violence is not in my dad’s DNA.”
As the indictment states, Dodd was air lifted to Northwest Texas Hospital with bleeding in his brain, a broken nose, fractured frontal (forehead) bone and a broken left maxillary (upper jaw) bone. Sources close to the family add that Dodd suffered broken vertebrae and substantial soft tissue damage.
Dodd spent several days in a coma. He was eventually moved from the ICU to a regular room, then to another facility, and finally to the Transitional Learning Center in Lubbock where he spent months rehabilitating. Dodd has now progressed to working part time back with the City of Borger.
Although Dodd himself had no comment at this time, Griswold told the News-Herald: “My daddy suffered life threatening brain trauma, several broken bones, eye injuries, vision and balance concerns, and multiple fractured back vertebrae that required months of intensive hospitalizations and therapies.”
According to a statement made by a Borger Police Detective, Garton admitted to assaulting Dodd both in impromptu ‘res gestae’ remarks and in a formal statement after being informed of his rights.
Garton bonded out on a $15,000 bail, but a protective order was issued that prohibited Garton from going within 200 yards of the Dodds, their vehicles, school, businesses or residence. It also forbade Garton from owning a gun or entering the vicinity of City Hall, the Public Works dept., or Northwest Texas Hospital, where Dodd was treated, as “The State has reason to believe the defendant [Garton] may intend to harass, harm, intimidate, or otherwise disrupt the victims, members of the victim’s family, as well as the defendant’s former coworkers.”
Griswold explained that the order “was issued because this was not the first time Brian threatened to assault my dad. It happened on numerous occasions.”
City Manager Edwards denied knowledge of any past threats to Dodd’s safety by Garton and declined to comment on many subjects, citing the pending criminal case against Garton and the potential for civil action.
Through the injuries and physical therapy, the Dodds hold out hope for the future. “We’re hoping at 18 months things will return to some semblance of normal,” though the ordeal has deeply affected the family. Griswold explained “My family was completely devastated by what happened to [my dad]. My mother (they’ve been married for 42 years) never left my dad’s side ... The grandchildren asked for him daily and that was probably the saddest part of it all.
“What me and my husband saw that day in Trauma Room 1 after he landed in Amarillo, I will never forget.
“No daughter deserves to see her father like that. My dad was not the only victim in this.”
A phone call to the Garton residence seeking comment was not returned.