Palestine Police Corp. Joe Tinsley has filed a complaint with the city against Councilman Joe Baxter, alleging the councilman threatened him prior to the Dec. 10 council meeting.
Police Chief Andy Harvey gave the letter of complaint to City Manager Michael Hornes. City council members discussed the complaint in closed session on Jan. 14.
On Tuesday, Baxter denied Tinsley's allegations. A.D. Ethridge, a retired police officer who is considering a run for mayor, said he was at the Dec. 10 meeting and doesn't recall Baxter even speaking to Tinsley.
Tinsley's letter states Baxter came out of a back room prior to the meeting. After acknowledging several members of the audience, Baxter walked to the front of the room in front of Tinsley.
The complaint states Baxter, a retired Palestine police officer, told Tinsley that, as a city council member, he could make Tinsley's life “a living hell.”
Tinsley also stated in his complaint that two other PPD officers — Sgt. David Kasaw and Detective James Heavner – attended the Dec. 10 meeting, where the threat occurred. Tinsley is PPD's quality-of-life officer.
The complaint further states Tinsley asked Kasaw if he thought Baxter was serious, after which Baxter laughed.
Tinsley's complaint alleges that, as Baxter turned away, he called Tinsley “a dumb ass.”
On Wednesday, Harvey said Heavner and Kasaw told him they would have no further comment on the incident.
Asked for a copy of the letter Heavner and Kasaw filed in support of Tinsley, Harvey told the Herald-Press to file a Freedom-of-Information Act (FOIA) request.
If Baxter did threaten Tinsley, Harvey said it could amount to a crime of “official oppression,” in which a person uses his or her office or authority to intimidate.
“I'm not sure what council member Baxter's intentions were,” Tinsley stated in his letter of complaint to Harvey. “But I, as you know, have extensive training on bullying in the work place and feel that these passive aggressive actions toward me were inappropriate.”
On Wednesday, Harvey said the PPD wants to move forward.
“We, as a department, don't have time for anything but protecting and impacting our city,” he said. “We've moved forward. I am proud of what our officers are accomplishing. The community supports the PPD and that's what matters.”