Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey addresses Sheriff Robert Chody controversy

Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey addressed the Sheriff Robert Chody controversy during the court's June 16 meeting. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey addressed the Sheriff Robert Chody controversy during the court's June 16 meeting. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey addressed the Sheriff Robert Chody controversy during the court's June 16 meeting. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)

On June 9, Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey condemned Sheriff Robert Chody after she learned of the death of Javier Ambler II, but Covey stopped shy of asking for Chody's resignation. During the June 16 court meeting, she spoke further on that decision.

“[I] want to thank the men and women who risked their lives each day to keep our cities and counties safe. Know that you are appreciated. However, the actions of a few ... law enforcement [officers] can and have tarnished the badge,” Covey said.

Covey said she continues to support law enforcement and does not support the notion of defunding the police, but she said she has issues with Chody’s claims—namely, that he said his department values transparency but the court is only hearing of Ambler's death 15 months after the incident.

Covey said she is angered that she would not have known of the situation had it not been for an investigation by KVUE and for the reporting of the Austin American-Statesman. She also said she was concerned as to why the event was important enough for the sheriff and County Attorney Dee Hobbs to be at the scene, but neither Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick nor the commissioners court were notified.

“Live PD," a police-centered reality show on which the Williamson County Sheriff's Office was once featured, was also on the scene and recorded the event but has since deleted the tapes, Covey said. Since then, the relationship between the sheriff's office and “Live PD” has been terminated by the court, only for Chody to continue filming and working with the show even though he has no legal authority to do so, officials said. Chody is currently under a lawsuit by the commissioners for going against their decision to cancel the show.


“The sheriff has said that ‘Live PD’ would bring transparency, but the Williamson County district attorney says otherwise. The D.A. has said that he has been stonewalled by the Sheriff's Department on several ‘Live PD’ matters,” Covey said. “Why wouldn't our top county law enforcement official provide all the evidence to allow for the criminal justice system to work as intended?”

Dick has previously said that he has been unable to prosecute any cases related to “Live PD” due to lack of access to recordings.

Covey continued to question Chody’s commitment to the county.

“You know, 'transparency' is just a word if you don't actually make sure that it happens. The sheriff and his department should always fully cooperate with all investigations, and that means [providing] all the evidence,” Covey said.

She then asked Chody what he will do to make right the issues at hand if he does not intend to resign.

“It would take someone who truly cared about Williamson County to do the right thing and make the right changes,” Covey said. “Sheriff, I'm calling on you to do the right thing for the whole county and its citizens that you were sworn to serve. ... The county needs the sheriff to be successful. You have an opportunity to turn this around. Will you?”

During the June 9 meeting, Commissioners Terry Cook and Cynthia Long asked for the sheriff’s resignation. Chody responded via Twitter that he would not. County Judge Bill Gravell has recused himself from all matters related to Chody and “Live PD” since April.

The court has no authority to fire elected officials, as it is up to the voting population to do so, officials have said.

In other business:

  • The court approved a proclamation formally recognizing June 19 as Juneteenth in the county. Juneteenth commemorates the day—June 19, 1865—when it was announced in Galveston that all previously enslaved Texans had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • The estate of Daurice Bussey donated $38,561 to the Williamson County Emergency Management Services station in Taylor, which the commissioners accepted.

  • Commissioners heard a presentation on the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority annual report. CTRMA President Mike Heiligenstein updated the court on the 2020 groundbreaking of 183A Phase III, which will extend 183A Toll Road 6.6 miles northward to north of Hwy. 29 in Liberty Hill, at a cost of $278 million. It is projected to open in 2024.

By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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