By Alton Porter
Dr. Ianthia Fisher and her brother, Billy "Hollywood" Groves, have leveled separate complaints alleging Crockett Police Chief David "Buddy" Cross was too harsh with them in his handling of a situation in which he told them "please do not talk during the meeting" when he believed they were speaking too loudly and being a distraction when conversing with each other during a Crockett City Council meeting Jan. 8.
Fisher, wife of former Crockett Police Chief Jimmy Fisher, read her complaint to the city council at a meeting Monday Feb. 5,
Groves, candidate for mayor in last year's City of Crockett election, also spoke during time set aside for "Comments from Audience or Council" at Monday's meeting and announced he has sent his complaint against Cross to the State of Texas.
Cross, who presented the Crockett Police Department's monthly Manpower & Criminal Incident Report for January 2018 after Fisher and Groves voiced their complaints, was unavailable for comment after adjournment of Monday's meeting.
The five councilmembers heard the complaints but took no action as they are not legally permitted to act on matters presented during the comments part of the meeting. Mayor Joni Clonts was absent, and Mayor Pro Tem Mike Marsh, councilmember for Precinct 5, presided of the meeting in her absence.
"I'd just like to share a few points that I filed against the chief of police in regards to the incident that happened (at the Jan. 8) council meeting," Fisher said opening her remarks. "And I'm basically just going to read what I've written. Is that acceptable?
"I am addressing this as a letter of complaint against Chief Buddy Cross for his inappropriate behavior and conduct unbecoming an officer assigned to respect the rights of all citizens."
Fisher continued, "While attending the Jan. 8 council meeting, I was shocked ... at the outburst he (Cross) made during the presentation of the fire marshal. His outburst was loud, unprovoked and can only be considered offensive.
"While a comment was being made to me by my brother, who was sitting directly next to me, stating that the fire chief was doing a great job..., it was in no way disruptive, due to the fact that we were at the back of the room and I was sitting next to him.
"As he was making the comment, I heard someone yelling from the opposite side of the room. And I'm not sure, but (it was) something to the effect about not talking. Maybe I missed something, but it appeared that we were discriminatorily singled out and disrespected in such a manner, with the sole intent to humiliate.
"Subsequently, I believe his (Cross) yelling was much more of a distraction than our private conversation. By the way, if quietness in the council meeting is such a valued commodity, I would think that the quietest way to handle an imagined infraction, would be to address the person or persons doing the talking personally, hence not disrupting the entire council meeting.
"Furthermore, I would not have taken issue to the yelling by Buddy Cross if it wasn't a common practice of visiting community members to share a personal comment among themselves throughout the council meeting.
"If talking during the meeting was a problem, I did observe several other people, including the guest who were here who were having a strong conversation while sitting in front of him (Cross). At no time did I hear Buddy Cross yell or indicate it wasn't acceptable to talk in the meeting while other business issues were being discussed."
Fisher said, "Additionally, I know that the police are at the council meetings by request and are there to carry out the law enforcement instructed by the mayor or council. I am aware that disruption is determined by the mayor of the council and not by the law enforcement serving as security for the meeting.
"There was never an indication by the mayor or of the councilmembers that a disruption was taking place. And I am unclear why Buddy Cross felt the need to enforce his authority on one select group of citizens. This in and of itself appears to be selective enforcement beyond the scope of his authority."
She added, "In an attempt at the end of the (Jan. 8) meeting to find out what had happened, I asked the question, 'Who was doing the yelling on my side of the room?' And in a very combative and angry manner, Buddy Cross approached me from across the room (and) came to the edge of the aisle and started saying something about his authority.
"I'm not sure what else he was saying, but it appeared to be a threat and I felt frightened. I'm sure that most of what was said at that point was observed by the remaining people in the room.
"I will state that, at this point, Buddy's approach was of such a nature that I felt extremely threatened by it. I feel it's a sad day for the City of Crockett when the citizenry is treated in such a disrespectful manner by one who has sworn to protect the rights of the people in the community.
"Therefore, I am requesting that the members of the council address this manner with Buddy Cross."
Groves said, "I filed the same complaint on Buddy Cross. I sent mine to the state. I've been talking to attorneys all over the country. ... The man (Cross) overrode his power. He's trying to intimidate people, but you will never be able to control God's people because I'm fearless. I'm not going to be intimidated by a cop.
"The cops have a job to do and we respect them. But, when (they) break the law, when (they) run over the people, (they're) not the law anymore. (They've) disrespected everything. I'm asking the city to put on the agenda to remove this guy, Buddy Cross, from police chief.
"I wrote a letter. I sent it to (City Administrator John) Angerstein. I hope you all (city councilmembers) will go through it, talk over it, discuss it and take it into consideration. We're going to pass a petition at some point to have this guy (Cross) removed because it's not right.
"Crockett is predominantly black and we only have one or two black police officers. It doesn't make sense. It seems like it's very vindictive ..., and we need to do something about it because we represent thousands and thousands of people who work hard every day, who come to this town expecting fair treatment.
"We want to let the people know, and we will not be silenced by anybody because we represent a democracy. It's called America."