Detective Brian Johns, a WCSO deputy since December of 2007, filed a Whistleblower Lawsuit against Williamson County. The details are below.
In August 2018 WCSO administration made a decision that stolen vehicles would no longer be towed to the WCSO impound. In October 2018 Chief Ryle, Chody’s right-hand-man, ordered Johns to no longer hold property hearings to dispose of stolen vehicles. Johns questioned the legality of this decision to Chief Ryle.
Also in October 2018, Johns advised (future) Judge Gravell that the Deputies Association would not endorse Chody for sheriff if an endorsement vote were to happen due to the actions regarding stolen vehicles. Gravell told Sheriff Chody and Chody because extremely angry. In November 2018, Johns was called into Chief Ryle’s office where Ryle “counseled” Johns about “talking shit”, referring to Johns questioning whether Ryle’s order was illegal as well as regarding an email Johns, as Association President, had sent out to the members of which Chody was not pleased. Chief Ryle told Detective Brian Johns that it was his duty to praise the sheriff and boost morale. A few days later, Chody called Johns into his office discussed the “talking shit” issue at which time Johns again brought up the illegality of the order regarding stolen vehicles. Shortly after, Chody confronted Johns about his conversation with Gravell and about the Association not supporting Chody politically. Chody then sent a letter to the Association Board members attempting to interfere and/or intimidate membership into supporting him politically. Johns was then moved out of organized crime into CID where supervisors began assigning him all auto theft cases and 1/4 of all property crime cases, double the workload of all other detectives.
In February 2019, Johns saw the County fleet manager working on the Chody’s personal Polaris UTV and found that the County had installed a battery and kill switch on the Polaris, using both county funds, personnel and time . In April 2019, Johns reported to the Rangers about this but the Ranger declined to get involved.
In May 2019, Johns reported the battery theft incident to Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs.
Williamson County Attorney Dee Hobbs represented Chody and was involved in other incidents that created a conflict of interest. Johns requested Dee Hobbs recuse himself and/or refer the matter to the Rangers due to conflict of interest. On May 21, 2019, TMPA Representative Dick Brock appeared before the Commissioners Court and read a comment from Johns as President of the Association opposing the LivePD contract due to officer safety concerns, after which Johns received texts from the WCSO chain of command criticizing him for such.
In July 2019 Dee Hobbs sent a letter to Johns’ attorney, instead of recusing himself, and indicated that the County Attorney’s investigation determined that what Johns’ had alleged was true, but that the CA office would not accept the charges because Chody used the Polaris for Sheriff’s office functions.
On July 2, 2019, Johns returned from vacation and was relieved of duty and driven home, charged with insubordination and dereliction of duty but not given written charges as required. This was in retaliation for Johns reporting the illegal activities of the Sheriff and of WCSO. Johns was told to report on July 3, 2019. Johns reported as ordered and explained how the charges were not true. at 3:30pm, July 3, 2019, Chief Ryle called Detective Brian Johns back in and terminated him. Brian Johns v. Williamson County, Texas
The WCSO’s actions constitute a violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act.