NAVARRO COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) - Malakoff police officer Ernesto Fierro appeared before a Navarro County judge Friday for the first time since he was indicted.
While off duty last December, he's accused of trying to run 70-year-old Bill Livezey of Iowa off the road along Highway 31, near Corsicana.
Fierro didn't talk after the court proceeding, but his attorney, Jim Lane did speak about his client's reaction to the charges. "You can imagine he's a police officer with a long history with law enforcement. He was somewhat surprised and stunned."
Fierro pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, official oppression, and three counts of reckless driving.
If convicted on the charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon alone, Fierro faces a penalty of between five and 99 years in prison.
Lane said, "I think after the case is over, and after we present the facts, the jury will see it the way we see it."
Witnesses say Livezey called 911 as he tried to avoid Fierro swerving in front of him.
Fierro was off-duty and was dressed in all black and wearing a helmet according to witnesses.
Both men eventually pulled over. Navarro County Sheriffs deputy's said when they arrived at the scene, Livezey was in Fierro's handcuffs, and complained he wasn't feeling well. Paramedics took him to a hospital, where he died.
Lane says, "My client and any person is always sorry when an individual passes away. He's not claiming any responsibility for that. He expressed his sympathy to that family, and we will continue to do that."
Bill Livezey's adult children want answers. His daughter Sandy Hartgers said, "I can't even think of anything that bad where you would have a 70-year-old man out of a vehicle turned up against a vehicle in handcuffs."
Livezey's children have now hired an attorney to investigate whether Fierro violated their father's federal civil rights.
Dallas Attorney Peter Schulte, who's also a sworn peace officer, is not a part of the case, but says the charges are serious. "Something really wasn't right here for an off-duty officer to react to something and then turn around and have felony charges go against him, and be indicted. It just sends a bunch of red flags."
Fierro has been suspended from the Malakoff Police Department. But years earlier, he worked for Dallas police. Records show he was fired from DPD after fleeing the scene of an accident. Fierro appealed, and was reinstated after a 20-day suspension. Four years later, he resigned amid two internal affairs investigations in November 2005.
Fierro went on to work as an investigator in the Dallas County District Attorney's office.
Later, he also worked as a police officer for the Ferris Police Department before joining the police department in Malakoff last year.
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