Texas: Williamson County Sheriffs Reward Use of Force with Gift Cards

By Brian Martel

According to former employees, Williamson County sheriff’s office frequently rewards use of force. Among those rewarded were James Johnson and Zach Camden, the officers who killed Javier Ambler by restraining and repeatedly tasing him while he told deputies he had a heart condition and couldn’t breathe.

During a recently released 2019 interview with Texas Rangers, Former deputy Christopher Pisa said that Commander Steve Deaton would hand out steakhouse gift cards to deputies who used force in a way that he approved of. Former Sergeant Troy Brogden also said Deaton gave out rewards for “good use of force.”

Deaton spoke openly about rewarding use of force to other sheriff’s office employees, including during supervisors meetings and classes, and sought to reward those he considered, “WilCo badass.” During the years that Deaton served at Williamson County sheriff’s office, nobody reported or openly questioned the rewards.

Commander Deaton resigned in 2019 after he received backlash for posting dolls posed in several bizarre images on Facebook. One showed a black elf who drugged his date with implied plans of raping her, and another depicted a black football player dismembered by a chainsaw for kneeling in protest.

Williamson County sheriff’s office is currently under investigation for five use of force cases including violently detaining a domestic violence victim and brutally beating a man during a traffic stop.

Commander Deaton’s monetary incentives for violence had been common knowledge throughout the office, and yet this practice continued until he chose to resign. Most police departments simply take no action against officers in use of force cases, but Williamson County sheriff’s office has taken this a step further by actually encouraging their deputies to use extreme violence on the job.

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