WAXAHACHIE — An Ellis County Grand Jury has indicted former Waxahachie Police Officer Anthony Parrish, 50, on the misdemeanor charge of assault that causes bodily injury to a family member on Dec. 14. Parrish was booked into the Wayne McCollum Detention Center on Dec. 20
Police officers dispatched at 6:50 p.m. on Oct. 18 to the 200 block of Meadowview Dr. to a possible disturbance.
"We got a phone call from the spouse of officer Anthony Parish indicating that they were having some issues and there was a disturbance at the location," said Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby in an Oct. 25 Daily Light article. "Our officers did respond and determined that there was nothing at that point to make an arrest for but we did follow up on it, and we are initiating an investigation into it.”
Parrish was placed on administrative leave with pay on Oct. 19, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Waxahachie Police Department. The police department both conducted an internal and criminal investigation into the incident. However, before the department completed the internal investigation, Parrish retired on Nov. 28.
“When we got the report of the incident, as I told you before we have had two investigations that take place. One is the criminal investigation, and one is the administrative investigation. The criminal investigation was completed and sent to the district attorney’s office. I guess they felt like there was enough there to prosecute and move forward,” Goolsby said. “I think that any time an employee is under investigation I think that they weigh their own options whether to stay and see how the outcome is. They are the only ones that really know the facts until we have completed the investigation. There are times they stay and the investigation totally exonerates them of anything. There are other times that they choose to resign or retire. Sometimes they don’t want to go through the stress of a full investigation and want to start over somewhere. He (Parrish) was not coerced in any way to make that decision.”
Goolsby said he believes that Parrish made the decision on his own to retire and he made no such suggestion to Parrish. He added that having two investigations run at the same time when an incident involves a police officer is commonplace.
“If there is any criminal aspect to a situation it is normal to do the dual investigations because there are different legal ramifications in each one. In the criminal side, the involved employee has the right to remain silent under Miranda,” Goolsby said. “Under the administrative side under a court case called Garrity, he has to answer our questions. He has to give up that right to remain silent. In exchange for that, that information cannot be used in the criminal case. So that is why there are two different investigations.”
The Waxahachie Police Department is classified as a civil service department. According to Chapter 143 of the local government code that governs civil service, it states that “The purpose of this chapter is to secure efficient fire and police departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants.” It also governs how police and firefighters are hired and disciplined.
Chapter 143 of the local government code also states that two types of personal files are maintained. The first is an officer's civil service file that the civil service director is required to maintain under section 143.0899(a). The second is an internal file that the police department may maintain for its own use according to section 143.089(g). This file contains specific times such as commendations, documents relating to misconduct that resulted in disciplinary action and periodic evaluations by the officer's supervisor.
“When he resigned there was no final determination in the case. So now it goes into the confidential file rather than the public file. I didn’t know that he was going to retire. Because it ended with his retirement it didn’t come to a conclusion. Without having a conclusion, we can’t release that information. We're really not hiding anything from [the public]. It is just by law that some of these things are protected and kept confidential, and I can’t discuss them. Of course, the criminal case is pending. It is one of those things that we will have to see how it plays out.” Goolsby said. “Civil Service protects certain information. If we were not a civil service department, then we would be able to discuss that information without any legal ramification. Under civil service, certain legal things are protected. So, in this case, that information at this point is legally protected.”
The Daily Light has requested the release of both types of personnel files.
City of Waxahachie Human Resources Director Gayle Sims stated in a Dec. 20 email that she has “Received your Open Records Request.
"I have his 143.089 (a) file that is considered public information available for you to pick up,” Sims wrote. “To the extent you are requesting “G” file information, which is confidential by law, the city will be seeking an Attorney General ruling. Please let me know the scope of your request so the City can reply in a timely manner.”
The city requested the ruling from the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a Dec. 22 letter from the Lynn, Ross and Gannaway, LLP. The letter was forwarded to the Daily Light.
Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said this incident was brought to his office’s attention by the Waxahachie Police Department.
“The facts and witnesses were presented to the Ellis County Grand Jury, which returned an indictment and then a warrant for his arrest was requested after the misdemeanor indictment was issued,” Wilson said. The findings were presented to the Ellis County Grand Jury. It is not common to use the Grand Jury for misdemeanor offenses, but it is also not unusual. It is very common when it involves a public servant."
Wilson said this offense is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable up to one year in jail and fine up to $4,000. Probation or community supervision is also an option. According to online records with the Ellis County District Clerk’s Office, Parrish's next appearance in County Court at Law No. 2 is set for Feb. 28, 2017.
“In all honesty, I don’t think it is a blanket indictment of law enforcement in Ellis County. I think that it is an unfortunate string of circumstances,” Wilson said. “Compared to the population as a whole, I don’t have any reason to believe that our law enforcement officers are any more prudent to criminal activity than anyone else.”
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