Banned for Life
The Hills outside their home: Mom Linda, dad Allen, and kids Colton and Kaeli.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A much-decorated but mouthy ex-cop wants to visit his kids’ schools again.
By PETER GORMAN
It would be easy for Allen Hill to intimidate almost anyone without half trying. The former fireman, paramedic, and police SWAT team member stands 6’2’’ and weighs 252 pounds — a trim 252, with bulging muscles and a set of shoulders that would better be called a wingspan.
Add to that the fact several years ago he killed a young man (who police said was pointing a loaded gun at him) in a no-knock SWAT raid, and it is perhaps easy to see why other mortals might feel threatened by a mere twitch of Hill’s eyebrow — despite the fact that as a fireman and policeman he was credited with saving seven people’s lives and received 84 commendations.
But it wasn’t Hill’s strength or use of any force that got the 43-year-old parent warned off the campuses where his two kids attend school. From his point of view, it was his attempts to use his paramedic training to help kids who were in pain that got him in trouble. From almost everyone’s point of view, it was also his mouth. Calling a school administrator a “fat cow” — and “bitch,” by some reports — and telling her to shut up is not going to win you points anywhere.
The end result: Hill was given a criminal trespass warning that prevents him permanently from being on any Lake Worth school grounds and any other location where Lake Worth students or teachers are present
That was almost three years ago, and except for one incident, Hill — who had been a volunteer coach and actively involved with the schools — has abided by the warning. But now, as a member of the National Guard, he’s been ordered to ship out in July for a year’s tour of duty in Iraq, and he’s redoubling his efforts to get the ban lifted.
“It’s like three years of my kids’ lives have been stolen from me. I couldn’t even watch my daughter graduate from middle school,” he said. “And for what? For being concerned that the Lake Worth kids were not getting the treatment they needed as soon as they needed it.”
Lake Worth schools superintendent Dr. Janice Cooper said the basic problem is that “Mr. Hill simply will not accept the authority of school officials. He isn’t just overbearing, he works at intimidating people. ... And I just can’t have someone like that, someone who might be a threat to my students and employees, in my district.”
Hill and others say the threat to students comes not from Hill, but from school district policies that delay medical care for injured students unnecessarily. According to Cooper, teachers and coaches have the option of calling 911 as a first response to an injury. Yet more than a dozen coaches and teachers Fort Worth Weekly spoke with believed they had to contact a parent, trainer, or administrator for permission before making the 911 call.
The district’s ban against Hill stems from two incidents that happened at Lake Worth sports events in May 2003. At the time, he was acting as assistant coach for his daughter’s middle-school-age extra-curricular basketball team. Having tended the players’ cuts and bruises without objection from anyone for a couple of weeks, he acted quickly when one of his players, Kassie Richardson, took a more serious spill during a game, and started “sort of screaming.”
“I went over to look at her, and she was in real pain,” Hill recalled. He determined that it was her ankle that was hurt. He wrapped and stabilized the ankle but feared there might be a broken bone.
Coach Trey Bull was already on his cell phone trying to call Kassie’s mother. When he hadn’t reached her after a few minutes, Hill asked the coach to call an ambulance. According to Hill, Bull said he would have to get hold of a school administrator to get authority for that. Thinking that medical care shouldn’t wait, Hill had his wife call 911 and told Bull he’d take the heat, if any, for the breach in policy. The Lake Worth Fire Department responded, followed a few minutes later by a MedStar ambulance.
When the fire truck pulled in, Judy Moon, the district’s director of special education, was just leaving. She called Cooper and then, hearing that the superintendent hadn’t been informed about what was going on, Moon went to find out.
“There were people around, including a gentleman I later learned was Allen Hill,” she said. “He was being overbearing, just by his presence. He was getting in the way of the EMTs, and I asked who he was, and when I found out he was not there officially, I told him that I’d take over.”
Hill said that, learning of his higher level of medical training, the firemen had asked him to take care of Kassie until the ambulance arrived. Not knowing who Moon was, he said, he told the woman he would continue to take care of her until the ambulance crew got there.
Hill thought Moon was upsetting the girl. Moon said Hill immediately started trying to intimidate her. Their wrangling continued after the paramedics arrived and took Kassie out to the ambulance. Hill said he’d ride with Kassie in the ambulance, since he knew her parents. Moon told him he couldn’t do that.
At that point, says Moon, Hill “called me a ‘fucking bitch’ and I’m sure some of the students heard it.”
Hill doesn’t remember the “B” word, but does say that he “turned to her and said, ‘look, you big fat fucking cow, quit worrying about me and take care of that little girl.’ And that shut her up, and she got into the ambulance and left.”
Coach Bull, who witnessed the argument, said he never felt Ms. Moon was in physical danger from Hill. But he said Hill called her a bitch repeatedly. “I’ve never seen a person treated that way,” he said.
At the hospital, according to Kassie Richardson’s mom, Karen, “My daughter told me that she was on the ground and that Mr. Hill was taking care of her — which was fine by me — and then she said one of the administrators, Judy Moon, came over and began yelling at him to get away from her. She says it was yelling, not talking. So when I was at the hospital, I thanked Ms. Moon for riding with Kassie in the ambulance, then went out and thanked Mr. Hill for calling the ambulance and taking care of her.”
Moon says Karen Richardson also apologized for Mr. Hill’s behavior. Richardson says that never happened. “I never apologized to Judy Moon for Allen Hill’s behavior,” she told the Weekly. “He had every right to take care of my baby.”
A second incident happened three days later at another basketball game, when a player on the opposing team got a bad scrape on her leg. Since no one else was helping her, Hill said, he went over to give her some first aid. That team’s coach objected, and when another official intervened and told Hill to leave, the official, according to Hill, gave him a little shove — something the official denies doing but that witnesses corroborate. The argument escalated, police were called, and Hill agreed to leave and not come back.
A few days later, Hill met with Cooper, who told him that he’d been issued a warning for criminal trespass and that he was banned from attending school events.
There have been other hassles between Hill and Lake Worth school officials since then. He admittedly snuck into one football game and was asked to leave. And in 2004, when Hill went to a “Meet the Coaches” event and started asking questions about what precautions the football coaches were taking to prevent their players from getting heatstroke, at least one of the coaches called Cooper afterward to complain about Hill’s aggressive attitude. Friends of Hill’s who were at the meeting said he did nothing out of line.
Hill has been trying to get the ban lifted ever since. A school district attorney said Hill’s lawyer has been told what he needs to do to be allowed to go to his children’s games and school functions again. But his attorney, Monica Cooper, said Hill has never received any list of actions needed to get his status changed.
Hill’s friends and supporters say that Lake Worth school officials’ reactions have been unfair and as overblown in their treatment of Hill as school officials think Hill himself has been. His friends believe problems with the district stem from the simple fact of his size, and the shadow of the 1999 incident in which Hill, as part of the North Richland Hills SWAT team, shot and killed 25-year-old Troy Davis, son of author Barbara Davis, in a raid on the author’s home. The cops were there because an informant had said the younger Davis was growing marijuana; police were told that Davis was armed and dangerous. When police broke in, Davis indeed had a gun; Hill shot him twice. The shooting was found to be legal, but Hill was outspoken in criticizing his department’s use of the SWAT team on what turned out to be the unverified word of an informant, and he left the force several months later. A civil suit filed on behalf of the Davis family, alleging that the police may have planted the gun, is still working its way through the courts.
School district attorney Lynn Rossi Scott, asked about Hill, responded, “Oh, the murderer.” In defending the school district’s actions, she referred to the Troy Davis shooting and to an incident during SWAT team training at Fort Hood when Hill and others, horsing around, dropped their trousers for a picture; instead of mooning the camera like the others, Hill shows his genitals. A female SWAT team member, who saw neither the photo nor the actual incident, filed harassment charges over it, but the case was dismissed. And Scott also mentioned a case in which she said Hill “pulled a man out of a car and beat him half to death.” Records show that the man, mentally ill, off his medication, and prone to violence, had gotten out of his car and hit Hill in the face. Hill got out, knocked the man down, and had witnesses call police. Hill was not charged with any crime.
Wade Miller, whose son attends the same school as Hill’s children, says that the ban has hurt more than just Hill and his kids. “He’s the guy that’s rooting for every kid, even on the opposing team, to do well,” he said.
Hill’s friend and former SWAT team partner Greg Crane says he’s seen Hill at his best — “which I respect a great, great deal” — as well as at his worst. “And at his worst he is nowhere near the monster that the district is trying to make him out to be. All he wants to do is look out for the kids.”
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