WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — In the shadows of the Williamson County courthouse and a cold, blowing wind, Mike Gleason placed his hand on a bible and swore to faithfully execute his duties as the county’s new sheriff.
Sheriff Gleason, a 23-year veteran of the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, got the keys to the building Jan. 1. as he began day one of his four-year term.
Gleason defeated Sheriff Robert Chody in November, beating the sitting sheriff by more than 30,000 votes and ending Chody’s hopes of a second term.
Chody lost reelection just weeks after he was indicted by the county grand jury on a count of felony evidence tampering.
Chody is accused of participating in the destruction of video evidence from his department’s pursuit and arrest of Javier Ambler in 2019. Austin Police Department body camera video shows two Williamson County deputies using a stun gun and arresting Ambler, who died at a hospital about an hour later.
Chody’s charges came while the Texas Rangers had five excessive force cases under investigation involving his department. Chody pleaded not guilty to his charge and claimed he was the victim of a political vendetta, which he said led to his indictment and his continuing prosecution.
“Now that the transition’s been made, people are coming out of the woodwork; that they didn’t feel safe making the report with the current administration,” Gleason told KXAN following his swearing in ceremony.
The sheriff said he was handed what he described as a “stack” of new complaints circulating around five incidents involving Williamson County deputies. Gleason called the complaints “deputy misconduct” and said his department’s internal affairs unit would open investigations into those allegations immediately.
“I haven’t even looked at them, we just basically got a stack of files yesterday—no, these were not Ranger ones, these are ones that have just been sitting dormant and fell on deaf ears,” Gleason said.
The new sheriff also detailed what he called “large priority” cases that he will have deputies assigned to finish in the coming days. Gleason said he and District Attorney Shawn Dick spent five hours on Dec. 31 going over some of the pending complaints against the sheriff’s office and some of the details related to the misconduct allegations.
“We have a huge backlog of cases because the previous administration simply was not working them. Some sexual assaults, some officer-involved issues that we need to look at. We have – not issues I should say- trying to pawn everything off on the Texas Rangers, the Attorney General’s Office, local jurisdictions; they don’t want them, so we’ve invited those cases back and we’re going to take another look at those,” Gleason said.
Gleason did not detail any of the specific allegations contained in the complaints, but confirmed his department has active investigations underway.
“It all comes back to the same players. This is something that we all came to agreement as we look at the whole matter, it all comes back to the same players—eight or nine people is probably the round number,” Gleason said referring to the number of deputies involved in the complaints.
“Are any of those eight or nine still with you?” KXAN investigator Jody Barr asked Gleason.
“No,” Gleason responded.
Gleason said he’s reached full staffing and the operations of the sheriff’s office continue. Gleason did not give a timeframe for how long it could take for his office to finish the internal investigations.