LEVELLAND, TX (KCBD) - "Whether this assignment of mine is lengthy or short, I pledge my full effort at making this office one that we can be proud of for years to come," acting Hockley County Sheriff Kevin Davis said. That was part of Davis' first statement as acting sheriff, after a judge ordered the suspension of current sheriff David Kinney.
Kinney was notified of his suspension just after 4:30 p.m. Thursday. He is accused of incompetence, filing a false financial report and a wrongful arrest. Hockley County Attorney Christopher Dennis tells NewsChannel 11 it's the culmination of an investigation that began shortly after federal investigators broke up an alleged drug ring back in July. Authorities charged several people, including two Hockley County Sheriff's Deputies with a number of crimes. "I filed this petition after an investigation that's lasted several weeks," Dennis said.
Dennis says his investigation started the day after federal authorities raided a Levelland home. "I've been assisted in that investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office. They've given me a lot of information from the drug bust that took place on July 10th and from local law enforcement," he said.
Kinney is not criminally charged - Dennis' suit is civil. State code allows the county attorney to remove an elected official for misconduct or incompetence. The petition accuses Kinney of wrongfully arresting an informant who helped federal authorities make the July drug bust. It also accuses him of incompetence, citing that approximately one third of the commissioned personnel of the Hockley County Sheriff's Office is under federal indictment, under felony investigation, or has been fired.
Kinney is also accused of making several false statements in reports to the county auditor. Judge Blair Cherry of Lubbock is assigned to the case and granted the immediate suspension of Kinney, and the temporary appointment of 286th Judicial District Investigator Davis to sheriff.
"My mission from this point forward is basically two fold. I want to assure the citizens of Hockley County that while there are admittedly some repairs to be made, we have the skill sets, the resources, and the ability to provide the continuity of service that you deserve. Secondly, I want to begin rebuilding the relationships that were damaged with any other law agencies, including local, state, and federal law enforcement that may have occurred during the investigation that culminated in the arrests of two Hockley County Sheriff's Deputies," Davis said.
Judge Cherry also granted a temporary restraining order against Kinney that prohibits him from acting as the sheriff, accessing county property and talking to employees of the sheriff's office. We tried to reach Kinney for comment at his home, and by phone Thursday, but we were unsuccessful.
Kinney has been ordered to appear for a temporary injunction hearing on August 24th at the Hockley County Courthouse. NewsChannel 11 will be there to let you know what happens.
The Hockley County Attorney is seeking a jury trial to decide if Kinney will be permanently removed from office.
(CLICK HERE) to read the petition to remove Sheriff Kinney and the judge's order.
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