2nd Whitehouse officer's 'whistleblower' lawsuit sheds light on allegations
WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - A second police officer has filed a lawsuit against the City of Whitehouse, his attorney says.
Attorney Brett Harrison says Lt. Scott Bradley, who works in the criminal investigations division of the police department, has filed suit following the May 14 incident that led to his being placed on paid administrative leave. He has been reinstated, but according to documents supplied by his attorney, Bradley is seeking monetary relief over $100,000 but not over $200,000.
Captain Curtis Dinger was the first to file suit, which is very similar Bradley's.
The suit says that Bradley received a call on the evening of May 14, 2015 from Corporal Shawn Johnson. Johnson reported an alleged violation of the law by Police Chief Craig Shelton. Johnson alleged assault/sexual assault against his then-wife Jessica Johnson by Police Chief Craig Shelton. He also alleged that Shelton, the city manager, and a businessman, Larry Cagle had been consuming alcohol.
Bradley made contact with Capt. Curtis Dinger. Dinger said he met with Shelton, Huckabee and Cagle in Whitehouse, and all three admitted to being at the residence of the woman, Jessica Johnson.
Bradley says that he and Sgt. Robert Pearson both immediately went to her residence. Bradley says they found her kneeling and crying. He observed empty "mango-rita" cans scattered in the home. He says she claimed to Pearson that Police Chief Shelton tricked her into going into another room, grabbed her by the back of the head in an attempt to kiss her, and grabbed her vaginal area.
When Bradley called Shelton, he says, Shelton's voice was slurred and he admitted they had gone by Jessica Johnson's home, "to see her new place."
Ultimately, the incident was reported by Dinger and Bradley to the District Attorney's Office, Smith County Sheriff's Office, and The Texas Rangers. When Texas Ranger Brent Davis arrived and was briefed by Bradley and Dinger, the document says, Davis said he was going to open a criminal investigation.
The document says that within one hour of Bradley and Dinger making contact with Shelton and Huckabee to conduct an initial investigation into the allegations made by Shawn and Jessica Johnson, and finding out that Bradley and Dinger had reported the alleged violations to an appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation, Shelton sent a group text message to Bradley and Dinger at approximately 8:19 on the same night saying, in part, "hope you enjoyed your job at Whitehouse pd." Four minutes later, Shelton sent them another message, stating, "Turn all your equipment in to me in the morning by 9am," the suit says.
The lawsuit says that messages sent by Shelton implied that Bradley and Dinger were being terminated for investigating and reporting Shelton and Huckabee's alleged violation of the law. Also, the suit says, Shelton's text messages, in conjunction with Huckabee's actions of placing Bradley and Dinger on administrative leave later than night would "lead a reasonable person to believe that Shelton and Huckabee placed Bradley and Dinger on administrative leave with the intent of thereafter devising a reason to terminate them for their investigation and report of Shelton and Huckabee's alleged violation of the law."
The suit goes on to say that Shelton and Huckabee were angry with Bradley and Dinger for reporting their alleged actions and sought them out for retaliatory purposes. Huckabee found them later that night, it says, and advised them as the city manager that they needed to relinquish their equipment and badges, placing them on administrative leave effective immediately. Then, the documents say, Huckabee went to other Whitehouse PD personnel immediately, and admitted his illegal actions to them.
Bradley's lawsuit is similar to one filed Friday by Captain Curtis Dinger. Dinger filed a suit for more than $100,000, claiming the City violated the Texas Whistleblower Act when it placed him on paid administrative leave.
Dinger says police chief Craig Shelton and city manager Kevin Huckabee placed him on leave after they acquired knowledge that Dinger was investigating criminal allegations against them. Dinger alleges that the actions taken against him by the city are likely to dissuade other Whitehouse employees from reporting a violation by the city or another employee.
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