Curious details emerge in investigation of Police Chief
By Mike Eddleman
The City Council voted Sunday in favor of continuing an investigation into Liberty Hill Police Chief Maverick Campbell, but inconsistencies in details of the investigative process shared with The Independent by Mayor Rick Hall since that Council decision have further clouded the issue.
The 3-0-1 decision came after more than three and a half hours of deliberation behind closed doors. Council members Liz Rundzieher, Kathy Canady and Tony DeYoung voted for the motion, while Gram Lankford abstained. Council member Steve McIntosh was not in attendance. Canady made the motion directing City Human Resources and Finance Director Becky Wilkins to continue the investigation, citing “actions by Maverick Campbell Feb. 23 and 24th at a LEAD Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey.”
In an interview Monday morning, Hall would not provide many incident details due to the ongoing investigation.
“It is still under investigation at this point,” he said. “We are waiting for a finalized report from the NJSP (New Jersey State Police).”
When asked about how the City learned of the incident he said, “We were contacted by the New Jersey State Police.”
But Campbell’s attorney Tiger Hanner disputes that claim, saying when he followed up with law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, representatives from the NJSP denied contacting anyone about the incident.
“Based on my discussions with the New Jersey State Police that is inaccurate,” Hanner said. “They did not contact the Mayor or try to notify him of this matter.”
There was no arrest or citation, and no investigative report, according to Hanner.
“The Mayor has told numerous people that Chief Campbell was arrested and that’s completely false,” he said. “Chief Campbell was questioned, he was fully cooperative, but no charges or citations were issued.”
Hanner elaborated on the incident, saying Campbell and his wife had a verbal disagreement in public, which led to the police response.
“Unfortunately it occurred on the floor of the casino, which, as most people are aware, casinos have numerous cameras,” Hanner said. “There was no violence whatsoever, but because it occurred on a casino floor law enforcement became involved.”
When contacted by The Independent, representatives from both the NJSP and Atlantic City Police Department denied making any contact with the City of Liberty Hill.
But before Campbell returned from Atlantic City, Hall had already been in contact with him about the incident.
“The Mayor had asked that when Maverick returned to town from New Jersey that he turn in all of his equipment, including his squad car, which Chief Campbell was more than willing to do to cooperate,” Hanner said. “Instead, the Mayor opted to have the squad car towed away from in front of Chief Campbell’s home in what I think is a clear attempt to embarrass him.”
For his part, Hall said he first learned about the incident Feb. 24.
“I was informed of the incident verbally on Monday approximately 12:45 or 1 o’clock in the afternoon,” Hall said. “I requested some documentation through direction of our legal counsel. We had placed Maverick Campbell on administrative leave on Tuesday. Becky (Wilkins) and myself contacted him at approximately 2:18 in the afternoon on Tuesday to advise him of his paid administrative leave at that point.”
Hanner is also questioning who is actually conducting the investigation the Council tasked Wilkins with.
“The City Council in their motion on Sunday directed that the HR Director would conduct the investigation, yet I received contact that the Mayor himself was conducting the investigation and had contacted administrators with LEAD, which was the program there, and other individuals,” Hanner said. “All of that occurred on Monday.”
An e-mail sent to Hall Tuesday from Nick DeMauro, the Executive Director and CEO of LEAD, corroborated Hanner’s claim:
“In follow-up to our brief conversation yesterday which you (Hall) ended abruptly, I would like to reiterate that Chief Maverick Campbell is an active member of our Law Enforcement Advisory Board and presented at our Board of Director’s meeting which was held in conjunction with the 5th Annual 21st Century Drug & Violence Prevention Training Conference and Summit.
“We have no information of any conduct on Chief Campbell’s part that would interfere with his participation with our organization. If you become aware of any information to the contrary, please feel free to call me at any time. We are proud of our relationship with not only Chief Maverick Campbell but also with the Liberty Hill Police Department and we look forward to a long relationship with your community. On behalf of the Board of Directors I want to thank you for all you have done in support L.E.A.D.”
It’s also unclear as to when an investigation of the incident officially began.
Council members Kathy Canady and Tony DeYoung told The Independent on Monday that they first learned of the incident and issue with Campbell when the City sent out notice of the meeting and posted the agenda, which was the afternoon of Feb. 27.
“(All I knew was) just based on the agenda by e-mail that it was a special meeting to discuss what was on the agenda,” DeYoung said of when he learned about the situation. “There was really nothing more in-depth before that. I just knew it was important because it was a Sunday.”
Canady implied that the decision process had only begun with the Sunday meeting.
“I still don’t know exactly what’s going to be discussed,” Canady said of the investigation of Campbell. “We’re still waiting for stuff. We knew there was an incident and we knew the dates but that’s about it.”
But Hanner confirmed that efforts had been made to push Campbell to resign prior to the meeting being posted.
“The Mayor, at least four times, asked Maverick to resign his employment with the City,” the attorney said. “Before there was any investigation conducted, before anything, he was advising Maverick to resign his job.”
Because he is a contract employee, Campbell can’t be terminated without a Council vote. But the repeated pressure, without the investigative process ahead of it, to get Campbell to resign indicates that it was Hall’s intent to dismiss Campbell even before the Council Meeting Sunday.
“The Mayor has seized upon this as an opportunity for political reasons and not based on what actually occurred,” Hanner said.
Despite being a member of the City Council that will ultimately determine if Campbell is terminated or not, Steve McIntosh posted a comment on the Sundance Ranch neighborhood Next Door page disparaging Campbell and calling his own objectivity into question on the issue being investigated.
“It’s so sad how this original poster is peddling lies along with the Independent. The paper has made it a goal to take anonymous lies from this police chief and disgruntled employees to remove him (Mayor Rick Hall) in favor of a mayoral candidate that would funnel money back into the pockets of the paper. The chief will answer for his beahvior…”
Once the initial motion was approved at Sunday’s meeting, the Council voted unanimously to name LHPD Lt. Royce Graeter as acting Chief of Police during the period of the ongoing investigation. Rundzieher made that motion.
Hanner said he was not given a timetable for reaching a conclusion on the issue.