Former police officer's lawsuit against City of Whitehouse moved to federal court

Published: Sep. 29, 2015 at 3:16 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2015 at 5:50 PM CDT
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WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - A former police officer's lawsuit against the City of Whitehouse following his July 17 termination has been moved to federal court.

Corporal Shawn Johnson was terminated following an incident in which his estranged wife accused former Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton of assaulting her in May as Shelton and City Manager Mike Huckabee visited her home in Whitehouse.

Shelton was indicted on assault charges, but the case was dismissed after Johnson's wife confessed to giving false testimony to the grand jury.

READ MORE: Charges dismissed against Whitehouse Police Chief due to false testimony

According to a letter sent to Johnson by the Interim Chief of Police Dan Finkelstein, Johnson was to resign or be terminated, based on the findings of an independent investigator retained to investigate the happenings of May 14.

The first allegation against Johnson was that he "utilized verbal and electronic written digital communication in a manner to incite violence against City Manager Kevin Huckabee, Chief Shelton, and Larry Cagle." A second allegation involves an incident where Johnson pinned the Chief of Police Craig Shelton's leg in his car door during an apparent argument following the May 14 incident.

"Although the investigator recognized that there were mitigating circumstances surrounding the findings of these violations, these findings are serious in nature and are considered as such by the Whitehouse Police Department and the City of Whitehouse," the report said following the allegations.

READ MORE: Whitehouse police officer fired

Johnson filed a lawsuit against the City of Whitehouse on August 11. According to the lawsuit, Johnson sued the city for lost income, unpaid wages, and overtime, as well as emotional pain and suffering stemming from the incident. Johnson was also seeking reinstatement to his former position with Whitehouse P.D.

READ MORE: Fired Whitehouse police officer suing city

On Tuesday, the City of Whitehouse requested the lawsuit be moved from county court at law to federal court.

The original lawsuit, filed by Johnson's attorney, Charles H. Clark, on September 17, claims that Johnson is seeking compensation for "violations of rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States" by violation of the Texas Whistleblower Act.

The city issued a statement to Tyler media outlets the day Johnson was fired. In the lawsuit, Johnson claims that the statement "created a false and defamatory impression" about him. He says that he was not given an opportunity to clear his name, or rebut the claims released by the city.

In the federal lawsuit, Johnson is looking for compensation "for damages, injunctive relief, reasonable attorney's fees and costs of court pursuant." He says that he has struggled to pay monthly bills after the loss of income, he has been embarrassed by the statements released from the city, and that he has not been compensated for overtime that he worked while employeed with the city.

The lawsuit also says that Johnson is seeking reinstatement to his former position as a police officer for the City of Whitehouse Police Department.

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