Waxahachie resident, ex-Tulia agent on ‘60 Minutes’
By 10/02/2003 00:00:00
Ellis County DA fired Coleman in '99
The Ellis County Press
WAXAHACHIE - Tom Coleman, an ex-undercover cop who was once employed by Ellis County District Attorney Joe Grubbs and who arrested the majority of Tulia's black population in 1999 on drug charges, was interviewed by CBS News' 60 Minutes as part of the network's investigation into the race-related scandal.
In July 1999, 39 blacks were arrested in Tulia after Coleman staged undercover drug buys with them. Of the 39, 35 were pardoned last month by Gov. Rick Perry, because authorities and court hearings failed to find any of the evidence Coleman provided as true.
Coleman's words were all the Tulia law enforcement officials went by to convict the suspects.
During the interview, Coleman admitted he had used a derogatory word for blacks, saying it is 'common slang' and a 'greeting' among him, friends and members of law enforcement.
The same year as the Tulia incident, Ellis County DA Joe Grubbs hired Coleman and assigned him to the Southeast Dallas/Ellis County Task Force as an undercover agent, but after a series of controversial dealings with other agents and an informant, he was let go.
Grubbs, according to published newspaper reports, said he hired Coleman after he was named Officer of the Year in the panhandle area, but it wasn't until months after his hiring the Tulia case became widespread.
Coleman currently lives in Waxahachie and is no longer in law enforcement. He's awaiting trial on perjury charges related to his part in the Tulia drug busts.