City: Gillam’s absence no problem for police
Published 6:40 pm Thursday, February 9, 2017
City of Port Arthur public information officer LaRisa Carpenter said on Wednesday that the fact that Justice of the Peace Judge Tom Gillam was not in the area when he was on call Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 was not a problem for law enforcement.
Gillam was injured in a Houston shooting Jan. 31, when he was on-call as JP in Jefferson County. That incident is still being investigated by law enforcement.
Meanwhile, while Gillam was away in the early morning of Feb. 1, emergency personnel could not locate Gillam in order to pronounce a death.
However, Carpenter said police simply called another justice of the peace and they did not wait long.
“It’s not unusual at all,” she said, meaning police sometimes have to call another JP if the first does not answer the phone. “It was not an inordinate amount of time,” she continued. “I think it was only 10 minutes. It was nothing out of character at all.”
Early stories in other news media pointed out that the initial dispatch call to Port Arthur police came in at just after 5 a.m. and the justice of the peace who did respond to the call, Ray Chesson, reportedly took the call at 6 a.m. However, Carpenter said this was because the call was initially for a medical emergency, not a death and so the police were not initially involved.
In the end, Carpenter said the radio silence from Gillam made no real difference.
“There are several justices of the peace for that very reason,” she said.
Gillam has not said publicly why he was in Houston, though he told Houston police officers that he was shot at while parked by the side of the road taking a phone call.