Public Health

Lawyer files complaint against county official accused of violating his own stay-at-home order

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A county official violated his own extension of a stay-at-home order by attending his grandson’s birthday party, attired in borrowed firefighter gear, according to a complaint filed by a lawyer alleging personal use of taxpayer-owned equipment.

The complaint filed Monday targets Judge Bill Gravell Jr. in Williamson County, Texas, report the Austin American-Statesman and KXAN. In Texas, a county judge serves as the chief executive officer of the county.

Georgetown, Texas, lawyer Robert McCabe filed the complaint with Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick, who said he would refer the complaint to the county attorney’s office.

McCabe says Gravell extended the stay-at-home order April 7—the same day that he attended the party. Gravell allegedly asked an off-duty sheriff’s deputy to drive him to the fire department to obtain the firefighter gear and a respirator and then to drive him to the party, where he wore the firefighter equipment.

McCabe alleges abuse of official capacity by misusing government property, official oppression for potentially exposing the deputy to health risks, and violation of the county’s emergency management plan.

McCabe learned about the episode in a three-way call with Gravell and Dick. Gravell wanted to speak with McCabe because he thought the lawyer had posted pictures of him at the party in firefighter gear. Gravell said he wasn’t the one who posted the photos.

Dick said in a statement provided to KXAN that he thought that Gravell wanted to contact McCabe because the lawyer or one of his clients may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.

The fire chief of Emergency Fire District No. 5, Mark McAdams, told the Austin American-Statesman that Gravell wanted to borrow the protective gear because he had been exposed to a lot of people in his county duties, and he didn’t want to harm anyone at the party. McAdams said he was wrong to agree to the request.

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