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$30,000 theft of copper results in racist remarks

FERRIS – On April 6, Ferris Police received a call from Ronnie Magness, 57, of Ennis in regard to a burglary of Magness Cabinet Shop, 715 N. Main.

Officer G. Davis responded to the location and contacted Magness, who said he did not give anyone permission to enter his business or remove any property. 

The following partial transcript of an police audio recording obtained through open records reveals Magness was unhappy with the officer at the scene, telling the dispatcher, “I want to talk to Deleon (Chief of Police) because that damn (n-word) y’all sent down here this morning couldn’t do nothin’ around there. If someone was in the damn building, he couldn’t have done nothin’, he’s crippled.

“And how in the hell was he going to send him down there if someone was in the damn building.”

While discussing the value of the copper that was stolen, Magness quipped, “It’s about $300,000,” although the cost later stated on the police report lists the estimated value at $30,000.

To listen to the recording, go here:

Shocked by the comments, Ferris City Manager Brooks Williams issued the following statement in defense of the officer.

“The City of Ferris values the strength of diversity and has set in motion a culture where we respect and value differences. 

“Diversity is not a ‘program’ or a ‘marketing campaign’ to recruit staff. 

“A diverse workforce is a city’s lifeblood, and diverse perspectives and approaches are the only way of solving complex and challenging business issues. 

“We believe the diversity in our city government should reflect the diversity in our population – and it does. The value of our diversity comes from uncovering all talent, and that means creating a workplace characterized by inclusion.

“The City of Ferris believes in all employees being valued, respected and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of every individual and ensuring the right conditions are in place for each person to achieve his or her full potential. 

“As the City Manager, it is my responsibility to shepherd that culture of diversity and inclusion. As a community leader, I am offended by the comments made regarding the diversity of our police department. I think that it would be wrong to shy away from calling out the obvious truth... that the kind of blatant racial prejudice this represents, has everything to do with stupidity. 

“I’m talking about low intelligence, a lack of mental ability, and a cognitive rigidity that is offensive. Comments such as these may be a rationalized as a lot of things, but let’s not sugar-coat what most fair-minded citizens would say: A person of intelligence cannot embrace such a racist view.” 

Magness said in regard to the racial slur he was angry and lost his temper, because he felt like the Ferris Police Department was not taking him seriously. He had called the police department to come to the property, and first they said he was not the owner of the property. After that was cleared up, he was still angry because they sent a “crippled” officer who couldn’t walk or get into the area he needed to in order to do the job – and that the officer took no fingerprints.

According to the police report, Magness was last at the business on Wednesday, April 1, securing the business due to the stay at home order due to the current pandemic. 

When Magness arrived, he said he had trouble entering the door on the east side of the building due to someone wedging a piece of wood behind the door. 

After a few hard pushes on the door he was able to enter the building and noticed wires hanging from the junction box on the right side of the entryway. 

Upon further inspection of the building, Magness noticed other junction boxes, equipment, and pipes were missing the copper wires from the inside. 

Magness found an open door and piece of tin removed from the building – the point of entry, on the north side of the building. 

Magness recalls screwing the door shut from the inside of the building to secure it on Wednesday, April 1. 

Ellis County Press

208 S Central St. 
Ferris, TX 75125