Grand jury declines to indict ex-Bellmead assistant PD chief charged with unlawful use of department computer

Brenda Kinsey arrested day after filing employment discrimination complaint
KWTXTRA Digital Update 6.8.23 (BREAKING: Trump indictment, teens injured in walkway collapse, GOP presidential hopefuls in Texas)
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 6:16 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A McLennan County grand jury declined to indict the former Bellmead assistant police chief Thursday on charges she misused her position to obtain information about her estranged husband’s potential love interest.

The grand jury no-billed Brenda Kinsey on breach of computer security and misuse of official information charges after considering the cases presented by Williamson County prosecutor Cari Warner.

Warner agreed to prosecute the charges after McLennan County Josh Tetens recused his office from the case.

This is the second time the charges brought by the Bellmead Police Department have been reviewed and dismissed. Kinsey was arrested in 2021, one day after filing an employment discrimination complaint against Bellmead City Manager Yost Zakharhy and other city officials.

Those charges were dismissed under former District Attorney Barry Johnson’s regime. Bellmead officers refiled the charges after Tetens took office.

Kinsey’s criminal attorney, Brandon Luce, said the grand jury’s decision not to indict Kinsey confirmed what they have known all along - that she did not commit a crime.

“Brenda has been unable to work as a peace officer since 2021, and I wish her well as she can now move forward with her career,” Luce said.

Kinsey, a 21-year police veteran, filed a federal lawsuit in March against the city of Bellmead and Zakhary, alleging gender discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Asst. Bellmead Police Chief Brenda Kinsey, (left), was arrested by Bellmead Police Tuesday, a...
Asst. Bellmead Police Chief Brenda Kinsey, (left), was arrested by Bellmead Police Tuesday, a day after she filed a harassment and discrimination claim against her boss, City Manager Yost Zakhary (right).(McLennan Co. Jail photo, Bellmead city photo)

Kinsey’s civil attorney, Ryan Johnson, said Zakhary, through his actions, continues to be a liability for the city of Bellmead and said city council members remain “complicit” in that behavior while he continues in his role as city manager. Johnson called the circumstances surrounding the second set of charges being filed against Kinsey “textbook retaliation.”

“The former King of Woodway loses again and continues to tarnish whatever is left of his reputation and career in law enforcement,” Johnson said Thursday. “Bringing false charges against a decorated police officer is a new low, even for Zakhary.”

Zakhary did not return a phone message Thursday.

Johnson asked if anyone in Bellmead is “paying attention?”

“At what point does the city council or city attorney acknowledge what the rest of us can plainly see? Yost Zakhary is a serial offender and has once again abused his position of power and the legal process in an attempt to ruin a decorated female officer’s career. For a second time, all criminal charges against Ms. Kinsey have been dismissed and determined to have no merit,” Johnson said.

After 20 years with the Bellmead Police Department, Brenda Kinsey was promoted from lieutenant...
After 20 years with the Bellmead Police Department, Brenda Kinsey was promoted from lieutenant to assistant chief of police Friday. (City of Bellmead photo)(KWTX)

Kinsey was arrested on misuse of official information and breach of computer security charges in early February 2023, complaints that arose from the same incident that led to her arrest and suspension in August 2021.

Kinsey’s arrest in 2021 came one day after Kinsey, who was seeking the vacant police chief job, filed a harassment and discrimination complaint against Zakhary, who also was serving as interim police chief at the time. She was charged then only with misuse of official information, a third-degree felony. However, Bellmead police added the breach of computer security charge, a state jail felony, on her second arrest.

The McLennan County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charge against Kinsey on Dec. 28, writing on the dismissal notice that the incident failed to meet the statutory elements of a crime because there was “insufficient evidence of economic gain or advantage.”

Arrest records in 2021 alleged that Kinsey was trying to find out the identity of her estranged husband’s possible new girlfriend by asking a Bellmead dispatcher to run a Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS) search for an Arkansas license plate on a woman’s car that was parked at her estranged husband’s home. An affidavit alleges Kinsey led the dispatcher to believe the information was work-related and was to be given to the chief.

Johnson also represented a Woodway city employee who alleged Zakhary sexually harassed her and fostered a hostile work environment. The then 17-year city employee settled her harassment lawsuit against Woodway in July 2018 for $50,000. Zakhary resigned the previous March as Woodway’s police chief and that April as city manager, after 39 years in Woodway.

“The city of Woodway ran this guy out of town after his disgusting sexual harassment and assault of a female employee. Now, the Bellmead City Council and city attorney are promoting this disgusting behavior. It’s despicable,” Johnson said. ”We intend to hold Zakhary and each and every person who assisted him fully responsible for ruining Ms. Kinsey’s career and reputation.”