When news broke in January that Fort Worth police had launched a helicopter to search for Johnny Manziel, Twitter was abuzz with comments suggesting he was getting special treatment.
How does Johnny Football get a police helicopter looking for him? one tweet read.
But records show that Fort Worth police regularly use their two helicopters to assist in a variety of calls.
Air One responded to 905 calls in a six-month period ending Feb. 9, including six assault calls similar to the one for Manziel in January.
“The helicopter may be used to search for a suspect, to prevent potential injury to another person, to search for a victim of an assault in need of medical assistance, among other scenarios,” Sgt. Steve Enright said in an email in response to questions about the department’s two helicopters.
Last week, Air One was used to search for a suspect in a wooded area in west Fort Worth after a gunfight left a Fort Worth police officer critically wounded and another suspect dead.
The Star-Telegram asked for Air One records from Aug. 9, 2015, to Feb. 9, after the Manziel search.
905calls that Air One responded to during a six-month period ending Feb. 9.
The helicopter was launched for Manziel after police responded to a call about a possible assault about 2 a.m. Jan. 30.
Manziel, the colorful Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M who was released last week by the Cleveland Browns, had been in a fight with his girlfriend that evening, according to a police report.
The incident started at Hotel ZaZa in Dallas when Manziel and his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, were with a group of friends. She told police he assaulted her and continued to do so as he drove her back to her apartment in Fort Worth, including hitting her in one ear that resulted in her losing her hearing, according to an affidavit.
After reaching the apartment, Manziel fled on foot. Once officers arrived, Crowley was uncooperative and vague about the possible assault but expressed concerns about Manziel’s well-being. That’s when the helicopter was dispatched.
A restraining order was issued against Manziel, and his domestic violence case was given to the Dallas County district attorney’s office, which will decide if it will be presented to a Dallas County grand jury.
City has 2 helicopters
Cpl. Tracey Knight previously has said all useful personnel and tools are deployed to investigate a call, especially when there is concern for the health or safety of a person.
Depending on staffing, maintenance, calls for service and other considerations, the city’s two helicopter units both patrol the community by air and respond to calls by being dispatched or requested by officers on the ground, Enright said.
The most frequent calls for Air One in the records released by the department were classified as “other,” with 144 total over the past six months. The “other” category is for calls that don’t have an individual code number, Enright said, for example helping another agency with a search or performing an aerial search for evidence.
The priority levels of a police call depend on different circumstances — potential for injury demands a higher priority level, Enright said.
Records show five units responded to Johnny Manziel’s case, four vehicles and a helicopter. Of the other three priority cases in the records, two responded with more units than his five — one had seven, one had eight.
The Manziel call was priority two, which is the category for calls reporting burglaries, disturbances, welfare checks, among many more.
Records show five units responded to Manziel’s case — four vehicles and a helicopter. Of the other three priority cases in the records, two responded with more units than his five — one had seven, one had eight.
According to the official report, Manziel was later confirmed safe in a phone call police had with his father, Paul Manziel.
NFL future is uncertain
The Browns made Manziel the 22nd second pick in the first round of the NFl Draft in 2014. But he fell out of favor in Cleveland after a series of off-the-field incidents — and a 2-6 record as a starter over two years.
After being released by the Browns and clearing waivers, Manziel, 23, became a free agent but has not signed with anyone.
There has been speculation that the Cowboys might go after Manziel, but team sources have told the Star-Telegram reporter that he was “never on their radar.”
Last week, a TMZ video showed Manziel saying that he expected to be playing in the NFL next year.
This story contains information from Star-Telegram archives.
Azia Branson: 817-390-7547, @aziabranson