Ex deputy suing Shelby Co. sheriff

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - A former Shelby County deputy is suing his former boss, Sheriff Newton Johnson, claiming his First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

In a lawsuit filed in May, Mark McAvoy alleges Johnson fired him and arrested him in retaliation to McAvoy commenting on Johnson's drunk driving.

A jury found McAvoy not guilty of animal neglect in November.  He was arrested in July following an investigation into the death of one of his horses.

The lawsuit alleges McAvoy began working for the sheriff's office in November 2010, when he began investigating drug problems in Shelby County. McAvoy claims he learned of Johnson's daughter's drug problems and was then told by Johnson to "leave the drug dealers alone, that 'they were not my problem.'"

The lawsuit alleges McAvoy began enforcing drunk driving in the county and made four arrests for driving while intoxicated. It was then McAvoy says Johnson told him to stop conducting suspected drunk driving arrests and if he did not, he would be fired. The lawsuit alleges Johnson called McAvoy on his cellphone in March 2011 and "sounded intoxicated." McAvoy says Johnson gave him directions to arrest someone, but gave him the wrong address. Johnson then met McAvoy in a church parking lot and had the odor of alcohol on his breath, according to the lawsuit.

"The Sheriff started to curse Plaintiff and told him that he was just 'A dumb [expletive] Yankee' and that he hated Plaintiff," according to the lawsuit.

After that, McAvoy alleges Johnson met him in a gas parking lot in Joaquin and almost ran over him, before getting out of the car and staggering over to him and cursing at him again. It was then McAvoy commented on Johnson's intoxicated driving, according to the lawsuit. He was fired two weeks later.

McAvoy then agreed to give away both of his horses, but one died before he could. In May 2011, McAvoy claimed he was told during a job interview that Johnson had filed animal cruelty charges against him.

Johnson's attorney filed a motion to dismiss on June 27. No deadlines or hearings have been set in the lawsuit.

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