Former Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix would have started his new position as the chief of police in Burnet on Monday, July 13, by facing a protest by citizens concerned about his involvement in the wrongful conviction of former Cedar Park football standout Greg Kelley.
Instead, city officials confirmed Mannix withdrew his acceptance of the position just before he was to begin, turning the rally outside City Hall and the Burnet Police Department into an impromptu victory party for Kelley’s supporters and residents who were against Mannix’s hiring.
“This fight has now turned into a celebration,” said Jake Brydon, one of the leaders of the Gregory Raymond Kelley (GRK) Foundation, which was established in 2014 after Kelley was falsely accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Kelley, joined by his mother Rosa and wife Gaebri, prayed with those present and told them “the reason we wanted this to happen (the rally) is not about me, but to help ‘the next guy.’
“It’s no longer about me anymore, guys. We wanted to make sure this guy (Mannix) didn’t come next door to your town, because we know how much you love your town, because the heartache and division it has created in our town (Cedar Park) is something that should never happen,” Kelley said. “Friendships were lost.
“Friendships were lost. Terrible things were said about one another and hearts were broken. My family has scars we’re going to deal with for a long time, but by God’s grace, it can happen and we can be healed up.” “Thank you for caring
“Thank you for caring about our town, Greg!” one supporter shouted back as the crowd applauded. Kelley’s five-year fight for
Kelley’s five-year fight for justice and full exoneration, which finally came in November 2019, is the subject of a current Showtime documentary, “Outcry.”
“If you watch the documentary, you will see that, at the end of the documentary, the people who did this to me, that did me wrong, weren’t held accountable at all,” Kelley said. “It’s completely backwards. You should be able to strip them of their duties and their responsibilities to not do this again to somebody, but instead, they promoted them.”
Kelley filed a federal lawsuit in the Western District of Texas in May against Mannix, Cedar Park officer Christopher Dailey and the city of Cedar Park, seeking monetary damages. Dailey, who led the investigation of Kelley, resigned from the Cedar Park police department last week, according to published reports.
Mannix retired from the Cedar Park Police Department in January after seven years as police chief. Kelley and his supporters had called for Mannix to be fired soon after Kelley’s exoneration. He was one of 80 candidates who had filed for the Burnet police chief position left vacant when Paul Nelson retired earlier this year.
After five rounds of interviews — including with City Manager David Vaughn, Assistant City Manager Habib H. Erkan Jr., Human Resources Director Kelli Sames and a panel of “law enforcement experts” including District Attorney Sonny McAfee, Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd, Lampasas County Sheriff Jesse Ramos and Leander Police Chief Greg Minton and one-on-one time with Public Works Director Gene Courtney, Fire Chief Mark Ingram and Police Sgt. Jason Davis — Mannix was the person offered the job out of a group of four finalists. An email and telephone
An email and telephone call to Vaughn requesting more information and comment about Mannix’s hiring were not returned as of press time.
The City of Burnet itself is the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by the parents of a 25-year-old man, Brandon Jacque, who was shot and killed in March 2019 by former BPD Sgt. Russell Butler, who was fired and indicted in April 2019 on a count of murder and three counts of aggravated assault by a public servant. Butler is also named as a defendant in the suit.
The lawsuit claims the city’s “policies/practices were the moving force of Brandon Jacque’s death and caused Brandon Jacque to be deprived of his constitutional rights to be free from unlawful seizures.”