Ex-Waco police officer sues the city, the department and its former chief
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Veteran Waco police officer Stan Mason, 58, who retired unexpectedly last year after just less than 25 years on duty, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city, the department and its former chief, Ryan Holt, alleging backlash from his online advocacy of community policing led to his departure.
Mason has long been an advocate of community policing and has been speaking out on the fractured relationship between the cops and the community.
His passion for bringing both sides together in understanding led him to create an internet radio show whose debut coincided with several high-profile officer-involved shootings that killed young Black boys and men.
Mason, “unapologetically” spoke out on what he called a breakdown in communication in community policing.
The show, which evolved from Facebook videos he started to produce in July 2016, debuted on May 13, 2017.
“Behind the Blue Curtain,” has gained a following across the United States including others from the law enforcement community, both active and retired, who also share their thoughts on public safety matters.
But Mason said the dialogue was not always well received by his coworkers, while he was on the job, and their response is the reason for both his prompt retirement and the lawsuit.
Mason, the suit says, became an outcast in the department and the “subject of scorn, resentment and undeserved scrutiny having nothing to do with the performance of his duties, but having everything to do with how he spent his private time.”
The suit alleges during the period he was posting Facebook videos another officer filed a complaint accusing him of disparaging the department, which was determined to be unfounded.
In another case a colleague wrote a memo to superiors accusing him of being in uniform during his internet appearances, which was untrue, the suit says.
In another instance, the suit alleges, Mason wasn’t provided with backup on a domestic violence call.
“The bottom line is that what Stan did, he did on his own time. He did it at his own expense, and he did it lawfully,” Mason’s attorney, Michael Roberts, said.
“He is the type of guy that dots the Is and crosses the Ts. He stayed within the perimeters so that he wouldn’t disparage his department because after all it was his department,” he said.
“You don’t trash your own house, but he is also vocal enough to try to foster change where change is necessary.”
City officials have not been served with the suit and had no comment late Wednesday morning.
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