The news is out: [Williamson County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office leaders rewarded deputies who used force on the job with steakhouse gift cards, according to two former employees, one of whom made the admission to Texas Rangers investigating the agency’s aggressive tactics.
Among the deputies who received gift cards to places such as Logan’s Roadhouse were J.J. Johnson and Zach Camden, the officers involved in the March 2019 death of Javier Ambler. The Black 40-year-old father was Tased four times as he shouted that he had a heart condition and could not breathe.
In a recorded interview with Texas Rangers, former Deputy Christopher Pisa said Cmdr. Steve Deaton awarded deputies he considered “WilCo badass.”
“They had the intention that we were all ‘WilCo badass’ and if you went out there and did your job, and you had to use force on somebody and he agreed with it, then you would get a gift card,” Pisa said in an audio recording obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.
Former Sgt. Troy Brogden, who resigned from the department last year, corroborated Pisa’s claim and told the Statesman that Deaton gave the cards “for what he considered good uses of force.”
Brogden worked for the agency for 20 years, including as a supervisor overseeing major cases in the criminal investigations division, before resigning last fall.
“He would talk about it in groups, including supervisors meetings and classes,” Brogden said. “I was like, ‘What the hell?’”
The revelation that top supervisors allegedly rewarded use of force provides a stunning insight into the suburban Austin department that seems to encourage violence, at least two law-enforcement experts said.]
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