‘A Legend Is Leaving’

gun and handcuffsAfter 40 years in law enforcement, DA Investigator Jerry Beall has some fascinating stories to tell.

There was the time he worked as a Fort Worth K-9 officer with a dog named “Lucky” – an off-colored German Shepherd he plucked from the pound one day before the dog was to be put down.

 “He was lucky that I came and got him,” Beall said with a chuckle. “He was a great dog. The dog trained me. He was smarter than I was. He was a great partner.”

And then there was the day, on his first undercover assignment, Beall lost contact with his backup officers while being held at gunpoint by some unsavory fellows. His body microphone had shorted out.

“The bad guy put a pistol in my face and said, “Lay down mother—-,” Beall said. “They made me lay down in a mud hole. He told me to roll over, he was going to shoot me. I rolled over and shot him.”

Sitting in his office at the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office on Thursday, Beall reflected back on his four decades in law enforcement – first as a Fort Worth police officer, and later, as an investigator with the DA’s Office.

Today, Beall officially says goodbye to a career that gave him great satisfaction, forged everlasting friendships, and helped take thousands of bad guys off the streets.

“I put in a lot of hours, but it was great,” said Beall, 69. “It’s been a good job.”

Beall began his career in the Fort Worth Police Department in 1973, where he worked as a K-9 officer, a patrol officer and as a sniper in the department’s first Tactical Unit. The bulk of his career, however, was spent as an undercover officer, targeting the county’s biggest money couriers, burglars, car thieves and drug dealers.

“I was in narcotics for 15 or 18 years, in different roles,” Beall said. “Some investigations were comical and some pretty intense.”

 Beall recalled the time he bought $200,000 worth of methamphetamine from a dope dealer named “Smithers.”

“When we took him down, we took three guns off of him and one off of his buddy,”  Beall recalled.

 And then, he said, there was the time he bought $680 worth of “Turkey Dope” – or fake drugs.
  
“It was my first undercover buy,” Beall said. “They showed up with a Ziplock bag full of a white powdered substance. I took it back to the office. I was feeling pretty good. They did presumptive tests and it was baby laxative.”

Beall said another undercover officer, Mike De La Flor, sat down with him and explained how to recognize cocaine.

“Mike De La Flor was the best narcotics officer I ever met, bar none,” Beall said. “He gave me the De La Flor 101 School of Narcotics. I never made that mistake again.” (De La Flor also went to work as a DA Investigator after leaving the police department. He retired in December.)

 Probably one of Beall’s most humbling moments was the time he got “arrested” during a drug raid in Cleburne.  He was working undercover and was told by his supervisors not to blow his cover under any circumstances.

“All hell broke loose,” Beall recalled, laughing.  “They handcuffed me, slammed me onto a pickup and put me in a squad car – and then I got strip searched in the jail. That night I was mad enough to eat nails.”

Beall worked for the Fort Worth Police Department for 26 years before retiring in 1998. He took two days off and then started his second career as an investigator with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

Beall was initially assigned to a misdemeanor court but quickly got transferred to Criminal District Court No. 1, a felony court where he worked with veteran prosecutors Christy Jack, Lloyd Whelchel, and Kelly Loftus.

“It is difficult to put into words all of the fond memories we have of working with him,” Jack and Whelchel said in a joint statement. “We toured untold crime scenes together, wore the wheels off of his car in search of witnesses and tried countless cases together. When Jerry was your investigator, he was just as much a part of the trial team as any attorney. He was the unspoken third chair. And no matter how trying the situation became, Jerry could always see the humor in the moment. 

“It was a blessing to have someone who had such a gift of gab, was a great judge of character, and someone who had such a huge heart. Not only was Jerry an integral part of our team, he is also our good friend and will be missed. A legend is leaving.”

Assistant District Attorney Amy Collum, who is chief of Criminal District Court No. 2, where Beall is currently assigned, echoed those sentiments.

“Jerry is one of the finest investigators that I have had the pleasure of working with,” Collum said.  “He is always willing to go above and beyond to assure a successful prosecution. He leaves a void in this office that will not be easily filled.”

In 2007, Beall was named Investigator of the Year by the Texas County and District Attorney’s Association – an accolade his colleagues said he richly deserved.

Beall said he will miss chasing bad guys and witnesses, but it’s time to take it easy. He plans to spend some time on his farm, relaxing and enjoying his family. 

“I’ve got a son, a daughter, four grandsons, and I’m now a great-grandfather,” Beall said. “I have the prettiest, auburn-haired, blue-eyed great-granddaughter. She’ll be four years old in August. I intend to get her on a tractor and ride her around.”

 

- Melody McDonald, Public Information Officer

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