McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara
Ex-Texas Ranger Matt Cawthon said he is seeking legal counsel to file a civil suit against his former boss and a local police chief for what in a criminal matter would be called “official oppression.”
He alleges that McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara and Public Safety Director/City Manager Yost Zachary approached executives at KWTX Channel 10, the CBS affiliate at Waco, to request they not hire him as a part-time on-air crime consultant.
Cawthon entered the ranks of the unemployed when he resigned his position as Chief Deputy of the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office, effective October 31.
In the parlance of civil law, such an act is considered “tortious interference” with a contract. “It is located in the same part of the law as slander and libel,” he said. “I want you to read that. You know how to look it up.”
In their desire to control his actions, he alleges, “They interfered with my ability to enter into a contract.” He added that he feels he has no choice but to seek redress through a civil action.
“That’s all these people understand…They understand bad publicity; they understand costing somebody a job…” Official oppression is defined as the misuse of the authority of a public office to restrict the freedom or liberty of a person without legal authority to do so.
The matter has attracted much publicity in broadcasting circles, due to the fact that Cawthon consulted with the news organization in a single on-air appearance about the murderous gun attack on KCEN-TV Channel 6 (NBC) meteorologist Patrick Crawford, who also serves as the weatherman for several local radio outlets, including KWTX News 1230, an iHeart Broadcasting station, which features a popular morning talk show hosted by on-air personality Shane Warner.
Warner, who called the implications of Cawthon’s allegations “huge” in terms of news media’s access to public information, and the ability of a person to seek employment, gave the development special attention on his Friday morning broadcast.
Reached for comment, KWTX News Mike Lauber said, “I’d rather not comment on things we’re doing internally. We are in a very competitive business, and we have to be mindful of that.” He would neither confirm, nor deny the allegation that Sheriff McNamara and Director Zachary approached his organization over hiring Cawthon. He acknowledged the fact that Cawthon made an on-camera appearance at the scene of the attack on KCEN’s weatherman, but Cawthon “wasn’t appearing in any capacity as a consultant.”
“One thing I’d like to help you with is that Parnell never told us anything about Cawthon being a racist. I’d like to clear that up.”
At the end of Friday broadcast of the News 1230 “Talk of the Town,” Warner called for a “public forum” from “anyone who wants to call in” between the hour of 8:05 a.m. and the time he signed off at 9. He had in a previous segment devoted most of the hour to reporting about the manhunt that is underway to locate the attacker who shot the weatherman and ex-Chief Deputy Cawthon’s allegations.
The hour passed, and he received no call from Sheriff McNamara or Director Zachary.
One may hear an audio of Warner’s wrap-up on the situation by clicking here: