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DA's Office: Defendant attacks bailiff, punches judge in Harris County courtroom

Joseph Catarineau is accused of attacking a female bailiff, the judge and two prosecutors at the 182nd Harris County Criminal Courtroom.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — A man is facing three felony assault charges after a violent outburst in a Harris County courtroom.

Joseph Catarineau was in the Harris County 182nd Criminal Court Tuesday to discuss his consumer fraud case, David Mitcham, with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said. His defense attorney was attempting to withdraw from the case and Judge Danilo Lacayo was asking Catarineau some questions about how the case would proceed when Catarineau started arguing and disrupting the court, Mitcham said.

When Lacayo asked the court's female bailiff, who is a Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy, to escort Catarineau out of the courtroom and to a holding cell, Catarineau reportedly pulled her to the ground by her hair and started punching her.

Two prosecutors who were in the courtroom intervened and Lacayo left his bench to try to get Catarineau under control. Catarineau allegedly punched all of them.

Catarineau was out on bond, so he was not handcuffed at the time.

Authorities used a Taser on Catarineau to get him under control. One of the prosecutors who was trying to help subdue Catarineau sustained a secondary shock because he was touching him when he was hit with the Taser.

Everyone involved is expected to recover. They all suffered minor injuries, Mitcham said.

Mitcham said the Harris County Commissioners Court should discuss if there is adequate security in Harris County courtrooms. He said it's not the first time something like this has happened.

The union that represents Harris County deputies said it's concerned about what happened. They said staffing shortages have forced them to move 12 deputies off patrol and into courtrooms to provide security.

Catarineau is now in the Harris County jail facing three new charges of assault on a public servant. Officials said he did not have a history of violence before the incident.

Mitcham said there is no video of the incident.

Watch the full update below or on the KHOU 11 News YouTube channel:

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