Michael Klier, the former president of the Williamson County Deputies Association, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the county last month. The lawsuit alleges that he was terminated from his position for reporting violations to the sheriff’s office.
Earlier this year, Klier reported to the district attorney’s office that a group of Williamson County medics had made posts on Facebook that “made light of the 2018 death of inmate Daniel McCoy,” the lawsuit claims.
The Williamson County district attorney’s office refrained from providing the Brownwood Bulletin with comments about Klier’s lawsuit because it “involves a pending investigation and pending lawsuit” regarding McCoy’s death, according to District Attorney Shawn Dick. McCoy’s mother filed a lawsuit in 2019 after her son became “violently sick” while in the Williamson County jail and passed away in April of 2018. The lawsuit claims that McCoy, who was mentally ill, “was denied medical treatment at the jail that could have saved his life.” This lawsuit also sued four officers at the jail “in connection with McCoy’s death.”
In his lawsuit, Klier states that “he was called to McCoy’s cell in April 2018 when McCoy was found unconscious” and “concluded the medic (Sgt. Nira) had been reckless in his handling of Daniel McCoy and that his reckless actions resulted in the prisoner’s death.” Klier was the detective tasked with investigating McCoy’s death. The lawsuit states that it was during his investigation he “learned of a Facebook group that medics for the sheriff’s office had formed.” “‘In these social media posts and comments, members of the group were laughing at Daniel McCoy’s death. In one comment, the poster bragged they had saved the county a thousand dollars a month in medication costs,’” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that Klier informed Sheriff Robert Chody and other sheriff’s officials about the posts in April of 2019. Shortly afterward, “a commander told him to omit messages from the report.” The commander also “advised him they did not have anything to do with the events in the cell and indicated the Facebook messages merely constituted bad (unauthorized) conduct by individuals involved in posting the messages.”
Klier also sought the direction of two sheriff’s lieutenants in November of 2019, inquiring about how to handle the Facebook findings “since the sheriff’s office had received an open records request for all of Klier’s work in the McCoy case,” according to the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit alleges that “the lieutenants did not offer any guidance.” In December of 2019, Klier “gave a statement to the sheriff’s office of professional standards about the Facebook messages .” Days later, “the office placed Klier under investigation for ‘incompetent or ineffective behavior,’” according to the lawsuit.
Klier then informed two assistant district attorneys in January of “multiple cases in which the Williamson County sheriff’s office has lied or withheld evidence from the district attorney and the (Texas) Rangers,” the lawsuit stated. In February, “the sheriff’s office accused Klier of untruthfulness.” The office demoted him in March and fired him on June 29, the lawsuit said. In the lawsuit, “Klier is seeking damages of more than $200,000 but less than $1 million.”