Testifying in his own defense Monday in 35th District Court, Stephenville taxi company co-owner Taezer Thompson blamed some of his legal troubles on competing drivers who, he claimed, have tried to run him out of business.
The 24-year-old Air Force veteran’s claim was “preposterous,” First Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird told District Judge Steve Ellis.
Ellis earlier ruled that Thompson had violated his 2017 probation for impersonating a peace officer in Brown County. At a punishment hearing Monday, Ellis adjudicated Thompson and sentenced him to three years in prison. Ellis set a $10,000 appeal bond but ordered Thompson taken into custody until he can make the bond.
Thompson and his wife, Emily, own the Taxiville company, which they started in 2017. Thompson served in the Air Force as a security policeman, according to testimony.
In a hearing last month, Ellis ruled that Thompson had violated his probation by unlawfully restraining a woman in September in Stephenville. Stephenville police arrested Thompson and the district attorney’s office in Brown County filed a motion to adjudicate.
In the December hearing, Ellis heard testimony that a woman was driving home on Frey Street around 2 a.m. when she noticed a vehicle parked at the curb with its hazard lights flashing. A different vehicle — a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by a man the woman identified as Thompson — pulled from an intersecting street into her path and blocked her, forcing her to stop, the victim testified.
The Tahoe had a “bright white light” on its top and the victim said she initially thought the Tahoe was operated by a sheriff’s deputy. The man the victim identified as Thompson approached her window and asked, “Do you enjoy following people?” When the victim realized Thompson was not a deputy, she testified that she “shut the door and took off.” She said her vehicle jumped the curb as she maneuvered around Thompson’s Tahoe.
The victim said she drove straight to the Stephenville Police Department and was followed by the Tahoe as well as the vehicle that had been parked with its hazards flashing. The victim went inside and gave a statement to officers.
At Monday’s punishment hearing, Rebecca Howell, who previously drove for the competing Lift taxi company in Stephenville, testified that Thompson had harassed her and other Lift drivers. She said Thompson yelled and cursed at Lift drivers and sometimes tailgated them.
Howell told of an incident in early 2018 in which Thompson nearly drove his taxi into hers as she was driving a customer home. Howell said she pulled into the customer’s driveway and blocker blocked her in. Howell said she started backing up toward Thompson’s taxi and Thompson moved out of the way.
Howell said she was so unnerved by the incident that she quit driving for Lift.
Several Stephenville police officers testified that they were familiar with Thompson because they had responded to calls involving Thompson.
Stephenville resident David Feltner testified that Thompson showed up at his house at 2 a.m. in August, looking for someone named Aubrey. Feltner said he told Thomspon he was at the wrong address and that there was no one named Aubrey at his house. Thompson responded with hostility, telling Feltner “I don’t have time to play games. Get Aubrey out here or I call the police,” Feltner testified.
Thompson, represented by attorney Heath Allen of Stephenville and Russell King of Dublin, said he was on friendly terms with many Lift drivers but he believed others were trying to run him out of business.
Thompson said there are some people who like him and others who don’t. Bird asked Thompson on cross-examination if he’d considered that people don’t like him because of how he acts toward them.
Thompson asked Ellis to leave him on probation.
Emily Thompson testified that Taezer Thompson is an “awesome” father and husband. She said Taxiville would have to be shut down if her husband goes to prison.
Bird, making a closing argument to Ellis, said the Stephenville incidents show that Taezer Thompson “is not grasping how wrong his actions are. He has a side of him that responds with escalation.”
As Ellis prepared to announce Thompson’s sentence, Ellis said there were “a lot of chilling similarities” involving the 2017 Brown County incident, in which Thompson was placed on 10 years deferred adjudication for impersonating a police officer, and the September incident of unlawful restraint in Stephenville.
“It’s troubling to me,” Ellis said.
Thompson’s two attorneys announced that they had already filed a motion for a new trial, and Ellis said a hearing will be set on that motion.
In the 2017 Brown County incident, Thompson pleaded no contest to impersonating a peace officer.
In that incident, Thompson was alleged to have been driving a Chevrolet Tahoe equipped with an emergency siren, in-car dash camera and off-road light bar across the top when he began following a man Thompson claimed was driving erratically. Thompson followed the man from Dublin to the Blanket area, and pulled up behind him when the man stopped. Thompson activated the light on his Tahoe, pulled out a gun and identified himself as a police officer, Brown County sheriff’s officials said earlier.