Sheriff pleads guilty and resigns

Photo by Dave A. Vance.
Johnny Brown

ELLIS COUNTY — Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor assault charge and resigned from office today, effective immediately, while also giving up his law enforcement license.

Following his plea and resignation, Brown stated in a press release:

"It has been my honor to serve as the Sheriff of Ellis County, Texas for two (2) terms and to have been re-elected by its citizens in the most recent election.

I was involved in an unfortunate incident earlier this year which has reflected unfavorably upon me, and I do not want it to adversely impact the good men and women of the Ellis County Sheriff's Office or the citizens we serve.

Earlier today I resigned my Office of Sheriff of Ellis County, Texas. My resignation was immediately effective and irrevocable.

I have also taken ownership of the criminal responsibility that arose from my participation in the incident involving my brother and third parties. I have accepted the judgement and sentencing of the court, and will not file a motion for new trial or an appeal.

Additionally, I have decided to end my long career in law enforcement by permanently surrendering my Texas Peace Officer License and all certificates issued to me by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement this date.

I thank the citizens of Ellis County, and I have only the best wishes for the employees of the Ellis County Sheriff's Office.

I offer my most sincere apologies to any and all who I may have hurt or disappointed. As can be seen by the actions I have taken to make things right today, I care more for the office I held, my coworkers and fellow public officials, the citizens of Ellis County, and respect for the law than to continue a battle that consumes time, money, and detracts from the mission of protecting and serving."

As part of the plea agreement to resign from office and giving up his law enforcement license, Brown will serve a one-day sentence in jail and pay a $500 fine. Both parties agreed to the plea deal. Without a plea and if found guilty, Brown could have faced a sentence of up to one year in jail and up to a $4,000 fine.

The incident stemmed from a January 1 incident at a Whataburger Presidential Parkway in Midlothian. Brown walked into the establishment to witness his brother and other individuals brawling. Brown hit one of the men

A statement by the Law Offices of Morgan Taylor, PLLC representing Brown shortly after the incident stated:

"On January 1, 2017, Sheriff (Johnny) Brown walked into Whataburger in Midlothian where a fight was already in progress. His initial observation was a large white male assaulting Sheriff Brown's 59 year old brother and knocking him to the floor. As a sworn law enforcement officer he is obligated to preserve the peace. He used the force and language necessary to end the violence, prevent further assaults, and protect others from being harmed. Sheriff Brown instructed a Whataburger employee to call the Midlothian Police Department. Multiple people were involved in the altercation. Midlothian Police responded, assessed the situation, and no arrests were made."

An account from one of the alleged victims, Mathew Longoria, after the incident stated:

"My name is Matthew Longoria. One hour into the New Year of 2017, my friends and I all decided to eat at Whataburger. Upon arrival, and walking from our car to the entrance of the restaurant, a man driving a silver car drives in the parking lot in such a way that upsets my friend Caleb. Caleb responded by throwing up his arms and giving the man a dirty look, to which the driver responded in the same way. We proceeded to the entrance and got in line to order our food.

While waiting for it to be our turn to order, and scanning the menu board, the man that was driving the vehicle recklessly in the parking lot got in line behind us with a couple of his friends. They made a point to stand as close to us a possible which made us very uncomfortable. When we decided to take a few steps forward to give ourselves some space between them, they did the same and reclosed the gap.

They then began talking amongst themselves at a volume in which it was easy to hear what they were saying. One man says to his friends, "So which one of these faggots is the bad ass?" To which another responded, "I don't know, it was one of these four."

Caleb then turned around to confront these gentlemen by saying, "What's up?"

The man asked if "he was the bad ass," to which Caleb started to respond before being punched in the face more than one time.

In shock, I reacted by pushing the man to the ground.

A man entering the restaurant then charged at me, "Nobody punches my fucking brother," and throwing numerous closed-fists punches at me, two of which struck me.

After restraining the man an calming him down, the folks that were with the two gentlemen started identifying themselves as "the law." When being threatened to have the cops called on them, they laughed and taunted that "they WERE the cops." The man who struck me was identified as Johnny Brown, Ellis County Sheriff, of the last 8 years, which was later confirmed."