WHITEHOUSE — City Manager Kevin Huckabee and two Whitehouse police officers are slated to return to work on Friday after a lengthy investigation surrounding an incident on May 14 that led to the recent indictment of Police Chief Craig Shelton on Class A misdemeanor assault charges.
The Whitehouse City Council reinstated Huckabee during an emergency meeting on Tuesday night. The council's action included formally reprimanding Huckabee and placing him on 11 weeks of probation. City Attorney Keith Mayo said Wednesday an investigation into Huckabee's involvement in the incident found he'd violated city policy by possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle on city property on the night of May 14.
"It (11 weeks probation) is the amount of time until his contract comes up for annual review," Mayo said. "At that time, the city council can either look at the entire year and determine whether to give him a vote of confidence and extend his contract, or determine it's in the best interest of the city to not offer that contract extension."
Huckabee spoke with the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Wednesday about the policy violations.
"I was indeed in a vehicle (not owned by Huckabee or the city) and there was an open/empty can of alcoholic beverage in the vehicle console," Huckabee said in a written message. "It was after working hours, but nonetheless it is a violation of the city personnel policy, and I must be more aware of my surroundings in the future.
"I did not consume alcohol on city time or property and will not discuss mine nor anyone else's personal life," he said, regarding whether he had been drinking with other city employees, including Shelton, earlier that night.
Huckabee said he finished work at 4:45 p.m. on May 14 and would not discuss what he did after hours. Huckabee reiterated he was off duty, was not conducting city business and would not discuss why he was with Shelton or the city's IT contractor.
However, a letter from Shelton's attorney, David Dobbs, to the Whitehouse City Attorney Keith Mayo indicates Shelton, Huckabee and the IT contractor were together that night and were going to check the city's warning towers.
The letter indicates that before the men left city premises, the city IT contractor "walked across the street and brought back some mango margaritas to drink."
"Chief Shelton stated the three of them left in (the contractor's) truck and began driving around," the letter stated.
The letter to Mayo also attached polygraph results concluding Shelton was truthful during questioning related to the events of that night, including allegations he was involved in a sexual assault of a woman on Memory Lane. The polygraph results indicated no deception was detected.
The indictment against Shelton last week accuses him of grabbing and pushing a woman and did not include any type of accusation relating to sexual assault or any other felony charge. He was no-billed on charges of official oppression and giving a false report.
Mayo said Shelton was offered the chance to resign last week, but Dobbs said the chief plans to fight both the charge against him and for his job.
Whitehouse Fire Chief Madison Johnson, who is the city's acting public information officer, said two of three officers placed on administrative leave after the May 14 incident were expected to return to work on Friday. However, Johnson said no action had been taken as it pertains to Shelton or Officer Shawn Johnson, who remains on leave.
No details have been released regarding wrongdoing or disciplinary action against the two officers who will return to work on Friday or how they were said to be involved in the incident.
Huckabee said he hopes his contract is renewed in 11 weeks.
"I can only pray that God will do what is best for the city, and I hope that my past six-and-a-half years of dedication and my future dedication will be considered," he said.