A West Texas sheriff facing removal from office for alleged incompetence and official misconduct testified Tuesday that he believes the county official seeking his dismissal was out to get him.Christopher Dennis, the county attorney in Hockley County, filed a complaint in August seeking Sheriff David Kinney's removal."Definitely out to get me; I don't know why," the suspended sheriff told jurors. "I thought it was very improper to put the investigator who helped him put this (case) together" in as Kinney's interim replacement. "He was part of putting all this garbage together."Kinney's comments came during questioning by plaintiff's attorney George Thompson on the opening day of the sheriff's civil trial in Levelland, about 30 miles west of Lubbock. In a civil trial, the plaintiffs can call the defendant as a hostile witness.In his opening statement, Thompson told jurors that Kinney oversaw a sheriff's office that had drugs and weapons in "drawers all over," instead in the property room.He also told the panel that Kinney had lied to federal investigators looking into allegations that his chief deputy was involved in a methamphetamine ring. Kinney told investigators he would not tell Gordon Bohannon he had spoken with them about their probe."I think the evidence is clear he did inform" the chief deputy that he had talked to the FBI, Thompson said. "When you add it up, time and time again it's gross negligence, gross ignorance."Kinney testified that he had told Bohannon about his talk with federal authorities. He also said he "did not agree" that his actions in supervising Bohannon and other deputies showed he was incompetent.Bohannon is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to federal charges for his part in a meth trafficking ring.Court documents show Kinney claims he was unaware of the meth ring involving his deputies. He has vowed not to resign, saying he did nothing wrong.
Sec. 87.013. GENERAL GROUNDS FOR REMOVAL. (a) An officer may be removed for:(1) incompetency;(2) official misconduct; or(3) intoxication on or off duty caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage.(b) Intoxication is not a ground for removal if it appears at the trial that the intoxication was caused by drinking an alcoholic beverage on the direction and prescription of a licensed physician practicing in this state.
"Incompetency" means:(A) gross ignorance of official duties;(B) gross carelessness in the discharge of those duties; or(C) unfitness or inability to promptly and properly discharge official duties because of a serious physical or mental defect that did not exist at the time of the officer's election.