“No, we’re not going to do it.” That was the reply a San Marcos police officer gave a 911 dispatcher who informed him that the 2020 Biden campaign was requesting an escort for their bus while a caravan of Trump supporters was trying to run them off the road, according to 911 transcripts cited in a lawsuit obtained by The Texas Tribune.
Police in other Texas towns did respond to the campaign staffers’ requests for an escort, but they left as the bus crossed jurisdictions from New Braunfels, Texas, into San Marcos, where the campaign had a scheduled event. When the New Braunfels police contacted San Marcos police to take over the escort duties, “San Marcos refused to help,” the amended federal suit claimed.
As a result of the harassment, which resulted in at least one traffic accident, the Biden campaign ended up canceling three events in the state, and the FBI opened an investigation into the incident. The suit claims the police department violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 because they were aware of “acts of violent political intimidation” that were taking place and yet did nothing to stop them. The suit requested compensatory and punitive damages, legal fees and a jury trial, citing “ongoing psychological and emotional injury” the plaintiffs still experience.
According to the transcripts, a San Marcos 911 dispatcher was speaking with a New Braunfels dispatcher and a Biden campaign staffer begging for police assistance when they placed them both on hold to speak with San Marcos Police Corporal Matthew Daenzer.
“I am so annoyed at New Braunfels for doing this to us,” the San Marcos dispatcher told Daenzer. “They have their officers escorting this Biden bus, essentially, and the Trump Train is cutting in between vehicles and driving — being aggressive and slowing them down to like 20 or 30 miles per hour. And they want you guys to respond to help.”
“No, we’re not going to do it. We will ‘close patrol’ that, but we’re not going to escort a bus,” Daenzer replied.
Speaking on a separate call with Daenzer, the dispatcher described how afraid the campaign and bus passengers were. “[T]hey’re like really worked up over it and he’s like breathing hard and stuff, like, ‘they’re being really aggressive.’ Okay. Calm down,” the dispatcher said.
Daenzer replied, according to the transcript, with a suggestion that the Biden bus should “drive defensively and it’ll be great.”
“Or leave the train. There’s an idea,” the dispatcher responded.
The dispatcher then switched lines, the suit says, and informed the Biden staffer that no escort would be coming. “If you feel like you’re being threatened or your life is threatened, definitely call us back,” she told him.
“Are you kidding me, ma’am?” the staffer replied, adding, “They’ve threatened my life on multiple occasions with vehicular collision.”
Again, the staffer requested an escort, but they were told by the dispatcher that the denial came “from our chief.”
The filing additionally claimed that Cole Staap, a deputy in the San Marcos City Marshal’s department who was onsite at the campaign event, was told the event was canceled and was informed of the bus passengers’ requests for help. But when Staap called 911 dispatch, he only informed them the event was canceled but did not mention the request for assistance from the bus.
“Despite these multiple calls for help from Plaintiffs and others, for the roughly 30 minutes it took to drive through San Marcos on the main highway that runs through it, there were no officers from San Marcos or any other police cars in sight–not on the I-35 exit or entrance ramps, nor on either side of the highway,” the filing said.
The bus next traveled through the city of Kyle, Texas, where police did respond to the staffers’ calls for help. “Shortly thereafter, a police escort arrived in Kyle, granting the bus a short reprieve,” the lawsuit said, according to The Daily Beast. “The Trump Train again de-escalated its harassing behavior and resumed driving at around the posted speed limit.”
Unfortunately, once they left Kyle city limits, the suit said the bus was once again on its own, and “the Trump train resumed their threatening behavior.”
According to the suit, Daenzer justified his refusal by saying that it was “due to the staffing issues, lack of time to plan, and lack of knowledge of the route, we were unable to provide an escort.”
After the incident, then-President Trump bragged about his supporters’ actions, saying, “It is something. Did you see our people? You know they were protecting [Biden’s] bus yesterday — because they are nice.”