In the most recent news story about corruption and coverup under Sheriff Robert Chody’s command, it was revealed that a 15 day old warrant was made inactive so that the subject could be arrested utilizing the SWAT team and filmed for LivePD.
On May 2, 2019, as reported by Tony Plohetski (KVUE and the Statesman) the Williamson County SWAT Team broke through the door of Mr. Gary Watsky’s home to arrest his son, Asher Watsky, just three and a half hours after Asher was in court, having passed through security screening, where the SO could’ve affected a non-eventful arrest. This was not the goal, clearly, as they geared up and rode in for a SWAT hit on the house.
Three former Williamson County investigators with the sheriff’s office, who are no longer with the agency, said that it was not unusual days before “Live PD” tapings for supervisors to ask them to move forward with getting warrants for suspects who could be arrested on the show.At least one, former sheriff’s investigator Gil Unger, said he complained to supervisors but felt his concerns went unheard.
“Since then, Dick has confirmed that his office is investigating at least five other use-of-force encounters involving Williamson County sheriff’s deputies, including the case of Ramsey Mitchell, who was injured after he tried to run from deputies on foot while “Live PD” cameras rolled.”
Watsky had been arrested months earlier.
According to the article, “Both Watksy’s lawyer and the county’s chief prosecutor say sheriff’s officials never intended to arrest Watsky quietly that day. In fact, the warrant executed in his home-invasion takedown on May 2, 2019, had been issued 15 days earlier. But when it was entered into a local law enforcement database run by the sheriff’s office, someone had intentionally coded it as “inactive” — a command that made it invisible to anyone authorized to access the database.
Without a way to see that Watsky had a pending warrant, no one outside a close circle of sheriff’s department officials could have followed the normal procedure of arresting Watsky on the spot. Watsky says he had no idea he was wanted until deputies burst into his father’s house and dragged him out in handcuffs that night.”
“They would come back there quite often and say they wanted a juicy warrant, something that would look good on TV,” said former Williamson County Detective Casey Daley, who left the agency in November after eight years to become a full-time mother.
Chody and the department did not respond to interview requests.
For seven months, he showed up on time for court and met other conditions of his bond.
“Anything else they really asked, I would be willing to do,” he said. “Passing drug tests. I haven’t missed a date. Just doing my best.” – Asher Watsky
National law enforcement consultant Jeff Noble said police agencies rarely rely on the same tactics deputies used in Watsky’s arrest and often consider them dangerous to officers, the public and suspects themselves. It’s not the first time someone has raised that possibility in the department’s two-year run on “Live PD.”
“I said, ‘Threat matrix aside, it appears to me the safest and most efficient way to arrest someone is in the courtroom,’ ” Dick recalled.
More than a year later, they are still badly shaken.
“It’s been tough,” Gary Watsky said, wiping away tears.
The raid left the home with several thousands of dollars in damage.
“Frightened in my own home, even after all this,” he said. “Even today, the doorbell rings, Asher runs to the other room.”
But they are also left with a feeling that their confidence in local law enforcement is shattered.
From the article:
Gil Unger, who worked his last of nine years in the department’s criminal investigations division before resigning last fall, said that, in several instances, he wanted to pursue more evidence before making an arrest.
Unger recalled two cases in which he had not yet contacted accused people to check their alibis or heard their accounts of what happened, possibly ruling them out as suspects or taking an investigation in a new direction. He said he no longer remembers the names of those defendants and hasn’t followed their cases.
“I didn’t like it at all,” Unger said. “I let my supervisors know, and I think the response was, ‘I know, dude. That is the way it is.’ ”– Retired WCSO Detective Gil Unger
Until the reality TV show began working with the sheriff, Daley said, she and other detectives routinely got suspects to surrender at the Williamson County Jail. In other instances, she said, she and another detective would go arrest the target of an investigation themselves — a practice she said supervisors discouraged after the TV show came to town. Though the supervisors said they didn’t think that was safe, Daley said, “We knew it wasn’t for our safety.”
Mike Klier, who served as president of the Williamson County Deputies Association and worked in the special victims unit for two years, said he and his colleagues referred to their supervisors as “shopping for Live PD” when the show was set to film.
Klier, who was fired in June after supervisors claimed he was untruthful about whether he received a directive relating to evidence in a case, recalled a child sex abuse case in which there was little evidence other than the word of a young accuser. Klier said in that case, a colleague was having ongoing conversations with a suspect, trying to build a rapport he hoped would lead to a confession, when supervisors ordered him to move forward with an arrest. The suspect refused to cooperate once he was in jail, Klier said.
“You work really hard on these cases, and you are trying to make sure everything is perfect for them,” Klier said. “It puts your entire investigation at risk, not only for you but justice for the victim.”
A very similar event happened a few days later with Archie Shirley. The only difference was that they already had the warrant for Watsky and would’ve needed to have it signed to arrest Shirley.
To understand the mindset of the deputies involved with filming LivePD, note the tweet from Jarred Dalton to his fans that he is “gonna try and get some good stuff stirred up for yall tonight”. -May 11, 2019
On May 11, 2019, Chody tweets that he is watching the crew from Washington DC.
Soon after, Dalton (Chody hire) tweets back that he is glad they could “make some good TV for the boss man to enjoy”. In a few simple words, he explained exactly what they had been doing the week before.
“I said to one of the officers, as they were getting ready to leave, stone cold-faced in his riot gear, I looked at him and said, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself for what you just did,’” Gary Watsky said. “And he just looked at me.”