SAN ANGELO, TX — Tom Green County Attorney Chris Taylor whose office is prosecuting Evan Berryhill for a hate crime has not responded to our questions about why his office chose to charge Berryhill with “unwanted touching” after Berryhill, a single woman in her 20s, was the subject of a months’ long politically-motivated online harassment, bullying and stalking campaign.
County Attorney Chris Taylor was once in a similar situation Berryhill finds herself and he was cleared of all charges.
Back in February 2013, Chris Taylor was cleared of wrongdoing after his arrest for family violence. According to reports, Taylor as booked into the Tom Green County Jail and charged with assault that causes bodily injury family violence. Taylor faced a one-year prison sentence and $4,000 fine for the Class A misdemeanor.
Tom Green County employed a special prosecutor from Abilene to investigate the charges. According to reports at the time, there were no injuries and Taylor’s wife refused to press charges.
The special prosecutor, Kenneth Leggett, said at the time the primary reason he ruled to dismiss the case was the lack of injuries.
The booking photo and all mentions of the arrest have long been scrubbed from the county’s online records system.
Likewise, in the case of Evan Berryhill, there were no reported injuries but she was booked into the Tom Green County Detention Center for a Class C misdemeanor charge of “unwanted touching” enhanced to a Class B misdemeanor because, Taylor’s office alleged, she touched one of the two men who confronted her because of her bias against homosexuals. According to the police report, no arrests were made at the scene.
Local business owner Evan Berryhill was returning to her home on the night of April 12, 2022 when she was approached in a dark parking lot by two men in front of her own apartment. One of the two men videotaped the confrontation and many who have watched the original video can witness the men were antagonizing Berryhill. In the video, it appears she reached for the smartphone one of the men was using to film her.
The video was released on social media the next day and picked up by leftist TikTok influencer Danesh Noshirvan aka @ThatDaneshGuy. He produced a TikTok video using the original footage and demanded “consequences” for Berryhill’s alleged offenses that night. Her offense included calling the two men “f**ing f**gots” during a heated verbal exchange. Bot farms as well as enraged members of Noshirvan’s 1.3-million large TikTok audience flooded social media and the San Angelo Police Department with angry messages and phone calls demanding “justice.”
Berryhill received an onslaught of bot farm attacks, threatening phone calls, threats to rape her, and bad online reviews of her business in the wake of Noshirvan’s series of videos he published about the confrontation.
The police officer who responded to the incident was subjected to an internal affairs investigation for handling the call for service where he diffused the situation. The police have not released the results of that investigation.
After a separate four month investigation, Taylor’s office had Berryhill arrested and booked in jail. After her mug shot was publicized, Berryhill experienced a new round of online harassment and bullying at the hand’s of TikTik’s influencer Noshirvan and his followers and bot farms.
The incident raised questions as to how the county attorney’s office exercises its prosecutorial discretion. Berryhill, a struggling owner of a downtown boutique, said she did not have money to hire an attorney as Noshirvan’s defamation campaign had harmed the health of her business. She reached out to the public defender’s office but her phone calls went unanswered. As of last week, Berryhill was the victim of new slew of stalking posts announcing her whereabouts in Facebook comments section on the Facebook page of one of the two men who confronted Berryhill that night in April.
That the county attorney escaped charges for assault on a family member after he was arrested at the scene raises more questions about why the county attorney chose to pursue the case against Berryhill. Unlike the circumstances of Taylor’s arrest, police did not see the situation ominous enough to even arrest Berryhill at the scene. That was not the case in Taylor’s arrest.
That the county attorney embarked upon a four month investigation to round up charges and an arrest is curious. In both instances there were no injuries, and according to the reports of Taylor’s 2013 arrest, that there were no injuries was the primary reason Taylor’s charges were dropped.
For more on the case against Evan Berryhill, see: