Ellis County, TX — In April, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law a “Blue Lives Matter” bill which bumps up the penalty for striking an off-duty police officer from a potential misdemeanor to a felony. But the following story coming out of Texas serves to illustrate just how awful the law will likely be for those who find themselves in a scuffle with a cop after hours.
Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown, along with his brother Bobby, were celebrating his recent re-election this past New Years with a trip to a nearby Midlothian Whataburger. After allegedly pulling up too closely to another vehicle, words were exchanged with the driver and other occupants.
The heated argument led into the burger joint and escalated to a point where Bobby, the Sheriff’s brother, decided he’d had enough jaw jacking, and took a swing at 21-year-old Caleb Tomgenovich, initiating an attack which appeared one-sided. The brothers were on a rampage.
Seeing his brother Bobby hurting a fellow citizen, Sheriff Brown jumped right in, punching one of Tomgenovich’s friends in the face. After the melee, police arrived and broke it up, but not before Midlothian Police Officer Aaron Walters had a few critical words for the Sheriff.
Walters commanded Sheriff Brown to leave the restaurant and to stop trying to intimidate a female witness by standing over her.
Get out of the store right now! You don’t stand over her like that, and try to intimidate her!
After Brown left the burger joint, he didn’t go quietly. As he walked passed Walters he threatened him by saying, “If you worked for me, you’d be fired.” To which Walters fired back, “I don’t care who you are!. Stop trying to intimidate me!”
When apparent intimidation tactics didn’t work, Sheriff Brown then turned to insults. “You’re an arrogant little f**k is what you are!” He added, “And I hope that camera’s on!” Walters confidently reassured him, “Oh it is! It is!”
The attack, threats, intimidation, and insults all led the Midlothian Police Department to charge the two brothers with misdemeanor assault. In a plea deal with prosecutors, Sheriff Brown decided to resign and surrender his peace officer’s license, ending his law enforcement career.
The whole caught-on-camera incident serves to highlight potential problems states like Arizona will encounter when police officers get out of line while off-duty. Arguably, if it hadn’t been for the dashcam footage (which Sheriff Brown was so afraid of) the whole incident could have ended with the college students being charged with felony assault on a police officer.
Laws such as the so-called “Blue Lives Matter” legislation, albeit well-intentioned, effectively create a new and protected class of citizens; law enforcement. In an era where police officers are seldom disciplined, hardly ever charged with criminal activity, and who rarely serve any jail or prison time (even in the most egregious of cases) what America needs is stricter accountability, not special protection under the law.
From his perspective, Tomgenovich told reporters he’s pleased Sheriff Brown lost his job as Sheriff. He said not even his mother believed the Sheriff attacked him first, at least until she saw the footage for herself.
Unfortunately, we see these types of incidents daily at The Free Thought Project. And we’ll continue to serve as a police accountability site. To you, Officer Walters, who didn’t let the Sheriff’s status prevent you from doing your job; We salute you.