Valley Mills: Police chief on leave after gun discharges at gas station

Clinton Ryals, 37, officially started his duties Nov. 6, 2019 after getting council approval on Oct. 21. (Courtesy photo)
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VALLEY MILLS, Texas (KWTX) Valley Mills police Chief Clifton Ryals, 37, against whom complaints were filed after an off-duty officer who intervened in a dispute between the manager of a North Waco convenience store and a woman who had just been fired drew his gun, which discharged has been placed on paid leave, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Thursday.

The source could not confirm whether the move was in response to the incident on Jan. 7 at the Chevron station at 3315 Hillcrest Dr., which drew a heavy police response.

The Valley Mills City Council is gathering further information and will schedule a meeting at which to discuss the chief’s future, the source said.

Dallas attorney Billy Clark, who represents the woman, Miesha Brown, 24, went to the Valley Mills Police Department on Jan. 8 to serve notice of intent to file a police complaint and a civil suit against Ryals.

Clark and Brown filed a report the same day with Waco police.

Clark says the officer clearly overreacted.

Brown wasn’t struck, but the percussion from the discharge sent her to a local hospital.

A store manager who asked not to be identified said Brown lost her temper and knocked down some things in the store including a computer monitor.

He said the off-duty officer told her to stay put while he called Waco police, but Brown ignored the order and left the store.

The manager said the officer followed her, and confirmed that a shot was fired outside the store, but added, “I don’t think the officer meant to do that.”

Brown spent the night in a local hospital after complaining of head and ear pain following the incident.

Ryals officially started his duties Nov. 6 after getting council approval on Oct. 21.

Ryals, a former K9 deputy with the Bosque County Sheriff's Office, started his law enforcement career as a reserve officer with the Valley Mills department in 2011 and then worked for the Clifton Police Department.

Prior to that, he worked as a teacher's aide and coach at the Valley Mills ISD for about five years after graduating from Valley Mills High School in 2001.