Detective and wife sue Austin over a “state-forced divorce” after police chief says they can’t communicate with each other

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AUSTIN, TX – A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Austin, Texas for what Austin PD detective Timothy Hoppock and his wife Andrea say is an “overstep” by police Chief Joseph Chacon.

What started as an argument on January 28, 2022, led to a call being made to the Austin police department. According to the suit, the husband and wife “agree that the call to police was unnecessary and regrettable.”

By the time officers arrived to respond to the call, the argument was over, and they had already reached an amicable conclusion to the problem.

The couple has been married for 12 years and have an 11-year-old son.

What they believed to be a resolved issue, turned into a larger issue just six days later.

On February 2, Chief Chacon issued a no-contact order against the detective. It ordered that he have no contact with his wife, on or off duty. It further indicated that he could not contact her employer, co-workers, family or friends.

The forms of contact include face-to-face, written correspondence, email, text, phone call, social media and any other form of communication available to Hoppock.

The Chief’s directive also stated that Hoppock would have to obtain written permission from his chain of command to contact his wife. He would also be required to provide the details of all communications and conversations.

The memorandum says, in part:

“You are ordered to have no contact with any witnesses or potential witnesses to this investigation; this includes your chain of command if they are witnesses or potential witnesses.

No contact includes, but is not limited to, physical contact with the individual covered by this order, their residence, their workplace, telephonic, text, Facebook, Twitter, social media platform, or contact via a third party.

In the event you believe you must contact the above-mentioned individual(s), you must seek advanced written approval from your immediate supervisor and provide a legitimate business purpose before having any contact.

If your immediate supervisor is a witness or potential witness, you must contact the alternate person identified by Internal Affairs. This order remains in effect until you are advised by Internal Affairs otherwise.

If granted written permission to contact the above mentioned [sic] individual(s), you are required to submit a memorandum to your immediate supervisor (or alternate supervisor identified by Internal Affairs) and document:

1) the date, time, duration, and location of the contact;

2) the name of the individual covered by this No Contact
Order;

3) the method used to contact and communicate with the individual;

4) a summary of the communications between you and the individual;

5) provide a copy of the communications if contact was made in writing (email, text, etc.). The summary of the communications must accurately portray all pertinent details, including any discussion with the individual which could relate to the ongoing investigation.”

Violation of the order would subject the detective to disciplinary actions, including indefinite suspension.

According to the plaintiff filing, the order was neither asked for or desired by Timothy or Andrea Hoppock. They have been unable to communicate for 6 weeks, even on matters such as the care and well-being of their son, their finances or even their marriage.

It also makes it abundantly clear that communications between spouses are considered confidential and neither the city or the department (to include its Internal Affairs Division) are legally entitled to know the content of any/all communications between the spouses.

The filing also breaks down the lack of legal precedence needed for the city to leave this order in place.

The state of Texas does allow for a temporary restraining order that may not exceed 20 days and must be heard and decided by a judge. Also called an Ex-Parte Protective order, this action cannot exclude a person form their place of residence.

The Hoppocks are now twice as many days beyond what is allowed by law, and the order has completely separated Detective Hoppock from being in his own home.

The legal counsel for the couple says that the Chief’s actions, and the city’s refusal to overturn the order, are in violation of the couple’s 1st and 14th Amendment rights as well as their marital and parental rights.

“The effect of CITY OF AUSTIN’s “NO CONTACT ORDER” on a Husband and Wife is essentially a state-forced divorce. There is no law supporting such a maneuver by a government entity in Texas.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled on similar cases that a state interfering in the right to intimate human relations violates both the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, holding “‘he choices to enter into and maintain certain intimate human relations [that] must be secured against undue intrusion by the State because of the role of such relationships in safeguarding the individual freedom that is central to our constitutional scheme.’

Plaintiffs’ marital rights and parental rights are ‘taken’ by a CITY OF AUSTIN (a government entity) as a result of this order.

The ‘taking’ of a right by the government against its citizens has long been restrained by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution since it was adopted in 1868, stating, ‘No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’

Since the adoption of the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause, the federal courts have routinely upheld an individual’s rights to Due Process from unfair state actions.”

As reported by KVUE, the city responded to the lawsuit via written statement on March 14.

“Last week, an APD officer and his wife sued the City of Austin challenging an order issued by Chief Chacon in February 2022.

The order requires that the police officer not contact the complainant, who also happens to be his wife, during the pendency of an APD internal affairs investigation, which is underway.

The order and internal affairs investigation were prompted by the wife’s allegations and related complaints to law enforcement about her husband. The order is written in a way that allows the spouses to have ordinary, non-threatening communications with one another while the investigation is in progress.

APD is responsible for protecting all of our community members. When allegations are made against our officers, they are investigated. To preserve the integrity of the investigatory process, including the safety of witnesses, we can and have directed officers not to contact complainants or others involved in the investigation.”

The largest police union in the state of Texas, with more than 26,000 members, the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) is assisting the Hoppocks with this legal battle. CLEAT’s mission is to “ensure its members (Texas Peace Officers) receive the professional respect, employment rights, and legal protections [they] deserve.”

Follow Law Enforcement Today for updates to this story as they become available. We have reached out to CLEAT and will provide the details of their response should we receive one.

https://fundourpolice.com/

 

AUSTIN, TX – A grand jury in Texas has indicted 19 Austin police officers for felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for their actions during the violent protests and riots in 2020.

Anonymous sources allegedly are reporting that 19 police officers of the Austin Police Department have been indicted on felony charges. A report that has been partially confirmed by Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday who confirmed the indictments but claimed he did not know the specific charges.

Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza spoke to reporters on February 17th about the grand jury being convened but did not release any details of their findings. He said:

“Our community is safer when our community trusts [law] enforcement. When it believes law enforcement follows that law and protects the people who live here. There cannot be trust if there is no accountability when law enforcement breaks the law.”

Texas State Law requires that the indictments stay sealed until the officers have been arrested. If they have been indicted with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the officers could face life in prison.

Casaday said news of the indictments would be “devastating” for the officers that work in the city. Although he believes the indictments will be devastating to the police department, he believes that none of the officers will be convicted.

Casaday noted that Garza promised during his campaign to hold officers responsible when they commit crimes. Because of his campaign promise, he believes the investigation is politically motivated. He said:

“DA Garza ran on a platform to indict police officers and has not missed the opportunity to ruin lives and careers simply to fulfill a campaign promise.”

Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon, who took over after former Chief Brian Manley stepped down, noted that he respects the grand jury process but was “extremely disappointed” in their alleged ruling.

Chief Chacon explained that the officers who dealt with the violent protests and riots were trained and equipped to handle hundreds of people instead of the thousands that came to Austin.

Chief Chacon, who undoubtedly has been fully briefed on his officers’ actions in 2020 before he took over, does not believe there were any criminal offenses committed during the protests and riots. He said:

“I am not aware of any conduct, that given the circumstances that the officers were working under, would rise to the level of a criminal violation by these officers.”

Chief Chacon noted that the beanbags that were fired during the protests did not always perform as they should. This could mean that the officers may have been intending to strike one person, but the beanbag malfunctioned and struck an unintended target.

The news of the indictments come after the City of Austin settled two lawsuits regarding the force that was used in 2020. The largest of the settlements that was approved by the city, $8 million, was awarded to Justin Howell.

Howell was present during one of the violent protests and riots in which multiple people allegedly began throwing rocks and water bottles at officers. Officers responded to the violence by firing beanbag rounds into the crowd and struck Howell, who according to police, was not the intended target.

The round struck Howell in the head and allegedly left him with brain damage.

If Casaday is accurate and this investigation and grand jury indictment are nothing more than a witch hunt, the shockwave it will cause with law enforcement will not only affect the Austin area, but the entire country.

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