Williamson County Sheriff's Office

UPDATED: Wilco Deputy Association President sues county, Sheriff Chody alleging retaliatory firing

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A Williamson County deputy has filed a "whistleblower" lawsuit against the county and Sheriff Robert Chody.

Williamson County Deputy Association President Brian Johns filed a suit alleging he was fired in retaliation for reporting an alleged criminal violation by Chody and other members of the office.

The Texas Municipal Police Association released a statement Tuesday supporting the lawsuit and calling for Johns reinstatement. 

"For too long, Sheriff Chody has been more concerned with increasing his profile and public image with pet projects like Live PD than serving the people of Williamson County. His complete megalomania is putting the public at risk, disrupting his sheriff's office, and diminishing the morale of its deputies," the statement by the Association said.

The Williamson County Attorney's Office and Chody both declined to comment, stating they had not yet seen the lawsuit but couldn't comment on pending litigation anyway. John's attorney was unavailable to comment.

In the civil suit filed Aug. 29 in Travis County District Court, Johns alleges Chody and the Williamson County Sheriff's Office violated the Texas Whistleblower's Act by terminating him July 3 over reporting alleged violations of the law by Chody and other officers working under him to the Texas Rangers and subsequently the Williamson County Attorney's Office.

Johns accuses Chody of repeatedly retaliating against him after he and the Association did not back Chody and he opposed the renewal of the county's contract with the show LivePD, something Chody strongly supported. 

The county voted Aug. 20 to end the county's contract with LivePD.

He also alleges he was repeatedly criticized by Chody and Chief Deputy Tim Ryle for  raising concerns the department was in violation of the law after the Sheriff's Office administration decided to stop towing stolen vehicles to the Sheriff's Office impound in August 2018 and Ryle subsequently ordered Johns in October 2018 to no longer hold property hearings when disposing of stolen vehicles. He alleges he was repeatedly criticized by Ryle and Chody for raising those concerns and for not politically supporting Chody. 

He claims he was transferred from the organized crime unit Criminal Investigation Department in response to raising these concerns and given twice the workload as other officers. 

Johns claims he saw the county's fleet management work on Chody's personal Polaris UTV in February 2019, including installing a new battery and a kill switch using county personnel. 

He claims he reported these incidents to the Texas Rangers in April 2019 but they declined to investigate and he subsequently reported the incidents to Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs.

He accuses Hobbs of failing to recuse himself in the investigation and sending Johns' attorney a letter in June 2019 stating his allegations were true but the County Attorney would not accept charges because Chody used the Polaris for Sheriff's Office functions.

Finally, he claims that after returning from vacation in early July 2019, he was charged with insubordination and dereliction of duty but not given written charges as required by law. He claims he reported to defend himself the next day and explained the charges were not true but was still terminated by Ryle.

Johns is seeking up to $1 million in damages, attorney's fees and reinstatement to his former or equivalent position with compensation for lost wages, benefits and seniority rights.

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