WILCO – Speakers at Tuesday’s Williamson County Commissioners Court meeting called for Sheriff’s Office Patrol Commander Steve Deaton to be fired, because of his social media posts — and for Sheriff Robert Chody and County Judge Bill Gravell to resign, based on their liking of one of those posts.
For the second consecutive week, county residents used the public comment portion of the court’s meeting to express outrage over the now-infamous postings.
Sheriff Chody and Judge Gravell had each registered a “like” to one of Commander Deaton’s postings. It depicted an Elf on the Shelf doll with a chainsaw, indicting the elf had sawed off the legs of an African American football player doll. An American flag hung in the background. Commander Deaton’s commentary referenced not standing for the national anthem.
In recent weeks the sheriff and judge have each said they regret liking the post.
Another of Commander Deaton’s posts involved the elf, a Barbie doll and reference to a date rape drug.
“It just seems our sheriff’s office is becoming a laughingstock of the state,” retired U.S. Navy Capt. Bill Kelberlau said at the meeting.
Other speakers called for a firing and two resignations.
“Jesus made an ominous statement: Nothing is hidden that will not be made known,” the Rev. Chuck Freeman of Free Souls Church in Round Rock said.
“Judge Gravell’s tepid, pro forma apology of making a mistake doesn’t address the terror these images have provoked,” the reverend continued. “Sheriff Chody’s responses are unacceptable at every level. A woman can’t feel safe in Williamson County. A black person can’t feel safe in Williamson County, especially a man.
“We are calling for the immediate firing of Commander Deaton with no benefits, the resignation of Sheriff Chody and the resignation of Judge Gravell,” Rev. Freeman said.
Her voice quaking with emotion, Georgetown’s Bonnie Garner echoed those remarks.
“I’m shaking, partly in fear and rage and frustration,” said Garner who described herself as a retiree “I can’t ever remember feeling this way in a community where I have lived.
“We have lost trust in the sheriff’s department,” she said. “Is it safe for me to drive at night in Williamson County? Maybe I might be pulled over by someone in the sheriff’s department.
“Sheriff Chody has been very dismissive of all this,” she said. “We need for Judge Gravell to either step up or resign.”
Lena Terrell, a Georgetown resident since 2006, said she is “horrified” by “the depraved pictures posted by Steve Deaton and the complete lack of response from Sheriff Chody.”
Terrell called for Sheriff Chody to either resign or pledge he will not seek re-election next year to a second four-year term of office.
“I would like to see the commissioners court take what action they can and not cry helplessness in the face of this action by an elected official,” she said.
“I laugh at lots of things, but to laugh at things that harm people isn’t funny. It’s cruel,” Jeff Schald of Georgetown said. “The sheriff can resign or show leadership. The county judge can resign or show leadership.”
Leah Nolan, a Williamson County residence since 2017, said Comander Deaton’s chainsaw posting is all-too-familiar to her and other blacks.
She said it is “what the African American community anticipates, experiences and protests against.”
“He should apologize and resign” Nolan said of Sheriff Chody. “He is responsible for placing SROs [school resource officers] in our schools.
“We do not want to continue to perpetuate hateful behavior,” Nolan said. “I have a son. There is no way I am going to allow him to pass around hateful images like I saw.”
Nolan concluded her allotted speaking time with a quote from Proverbs: “Where there is no counsel, the people fall. But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”