Georgetown, TX – The new Williamson County sheriff rehired a deputy who is facing charges in connection with an arrest he made almost two years ago.
The incident occurred in April of 2019 after Williamson County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Pisa made a traffic stop on a vehicle that was missing its front license plate, KVUE reported.
Imani Nembhard was driving her brother’s car and her two young daughters were in the backseat, one of whom was not restrained in a car seat as required by law, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Nembhard has complained that Deputy Pisa threw her to the ground as her two children screamed at him to let her go, KVUE reported.
She claimed the deputy used so much force that she was knocked out of her shoes and her dress rose up, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
“I asked him why I was being arrested. Like, talk to me. And he wouldn’t say anything. He was just completely silent,” Nembhard said.
The driver was taken to the hospital to be checked out before she was booked into jail, and she claimed that while there, Deputy Pisa refused to uncuff her from the bed so she could use the bathroom, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Nembhard said the sheriff’s department had also reported her to Child Protective Services (CPS) for failing to restrain her small children in the car.
She was charged with assault on a public servant and resisting arrest and spent two days in jail, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
The charges against her were eventually dropped and CPS took no action against the mother.
Nembhard filed a complaint that alleged Deputy Pisa had used excessive force against her during the arrest, KVUE reported.
Records showed that then-Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody referred the incident to prosecutors for possible criminal charges in 2019 and Deputy Pisa resigned, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
A grand jury indicted the former deputy on charges of assault causing bodily injury and misdemeanor official oppression in October of 2020.
But the new Williamson County sheriff hired Deputy Pisa back to his department in January anyway, KVUE reported.
Williamson County Sheriff Mike Gleason said that he didn’t think Deputy Pisa had been afforded due process during an administrative review by the department after the incident.
Sheriff Gleason also said that he didn’t think Deputy Pisa had been properly trained at the academy because his training was cut short, including lessons on de-escalation tactics, KVUE reported.
Robert McCabe, an attorney for Deputy Pisa, said the sheriff’s department cut short the deputy’s field training and relied on another deputy who is currently the subject of two use-of-force investigations to teach him how to do his job, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Supervisors initially told Deputy Pisa he had handled things properly, and that his use of force was within policy.
Later, when he was interviewed by investigators from the Texas Rangers, Deputy Pisa told them that he thought he was going to be awarded a steakhouse gift card for using an appropriate amount of force, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
He noted the department rewarded deputies with gift cards for justified uses of force.
But the sheriff’s department changed its stance on the incident.
The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office has refused to release any materials related to the incident, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Officials have said releasing the bodycam, dashcam, and use-of-force report could jeopardize the ongoing case.
Sheriff Gleason said that Deputy Pisa was assigned to desk duty and would not be on patrol while the court case was ongoing, KVUE reported.
“It is our hope that this incident, at the conclusion of the investigation into other, still pending use-of-force cases at the Williamson County sheriff’s office, will ultimately be viewed as training and supervisor failure, rather than as an intentional abuse of power by Mr. Pisa,” the deputy’s attorney told the Austin American-Statesman.