“Until the investigation is complete, no further comments can be made,” the statement signed by Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva read.
The Karnes Countywide reached out to Chief Deputy Russell Swize for comment regarding the circumstances surrounding the complaint.
“I wish I could (comment) but due to the ongoing investigation I respectively decline to comment at this time,” Swize said.
County Attorney Herb Hancock said during an interview last week that the complaint was related to a comment allegedly made by Swize while assisting in the emergency response to a crash that happened in the Falls City area on June 3. The comment was reportedly recorded by the dashcam video recorder in a DPS trooper’s vehicle.
The crash involved a truck owned by Premiere Vacuum Service, Inc. and two other vehicles. The DPS accident report did not find the truck driver at fault in the crash. According to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, Richard Shaw is listed as one of the officers of Premiere Vacuum Service. According to one recent news release, the company is owned and operated by friends and family of Barbara Shaw.
“It is not a criminal investigation at this time,” Hancock said. “It is a civil investigation that has to do with whether or not the chief deputy will be relieved of his duties or not. It is not going to be a long drawn out thing.”
The Karnes Countywide also reached out to Karnes County Judge Barbara Shaw for comment. Shaw declined a request for an interview regarding the incident but an attorney representing her in the matter sent a statement.
Attorney Brian Smith, with McKamie Krueger and Knight, LLP, a San Antonio law firm, said in a written statement that his firm was retained by Premiere Vacuum Service, Inc. and Barbara Najvar Shaw, in her individual capacity, to review and evaluate the events surrounding the accident.
“Following this firm’s review of the materials which were obtained through an open records request, we advised our clients that we felt there was sufficient evidence to support this firm filing a formal written complaint on their behalf with both Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva and Karnes County Attorney Herb Hancock in response to the alleged actions of Karnes County Chief Deputy Sheriff Russell Swize while on scene of the above referenced motor vehicle accident which occurred on June 3, 2013,” Smith said.
“With our clients’ permission, I drafted, and hand delivered, written complaints to Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva and Karnes County Attorney Herb Hancock in response to the alleged actions of Karnes County Chief Deputy Sheriff Russell Swize while on scene of the above referenced motor vehicle accident which occurred on June 3, 2013. As of the drafting of this e-mail, I have not received any communication, nor would I expect to, from either Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva or Karnes County Attorney Herb Hancock regarding the status of any investigation initiated by the written complaint that I filed on behalf of our clients,” Smith’s statement continued.
“While we remain confident that the evidence provided to Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva and Karnes County Attorney Herb Hancock from this office supports an investigation into Karnes County Chief Deputy Sheriff Russell Swize’s alleged behavior, it would not be proper for anyone from Premier Vacuum Service, Inc. or Barbara Najvar Shaw, in her individual capacity to comment during an ongoing investigation.”