A Texas Sheriff was arrested on counts of “official oppression” — and briefly detained at the county jail he oversees, before being released on bond Thursday.
Jeffrey C. Lyde is the top lawman in Clay County in rural North Texas, near the Oklahoma border. But he’s now the one in legal jeopardy, facing Class A misdemeanor charges for unlawfully jailing inmates for longer than two days without a finding of probable cause.
It has been a big week for Lyde. Rolling Stone revealed Monday that his name appears on leaked membership rolls of the Oath Keepers, a right wing militia group that recruits from law enforcement and is notorious for armed vigilantism. (Lyde did not respond to numerous requests to offer context for his alleged affiliation with the extremist group.)
On Thursday, Lyde posted a striking five-minute video to the Clay County Sheriff’s department Facebook regarding his arrest. In the video, Lyde said that “the rumors of my incarceration have been greatly exaggerated.”
Lyde’s address to the public was meandering and deflated, a significant contrast with the bravado the Sheriff usually projects in his videos to constituents. (Lyde also likes to post right-wing memes to his social media, recently posting “LET’S GO BRANDON!” — code for an insult of president Biden — on his Facebook page.)
“There is some truth to the fact that I have, in fact, been charged with two counts of official oppression,” the sheriff said. Lyde then read from a grand jury indictment alleging that he “intentionally” held two detainees “in jail more than 48 hours without a finding of probable cause by a magistrate.” According to the indictments, the detainees were man named Landon Goad and a woman named Sarah Johnson, who were allegedly jailed in mid-July of this year.
As the county’s top law enforcement official he would typically set the bond for misdemeanor charges. Lyde said a local judge was brought in, instead, who set the sheriff free on a personal recognizance bond. In a bit of irony, the sheriff, charged with unlawfully long detentions, was processed through the county system at break-neck speed. “The jail roster may or may not have my name on it,” Lyde said. “I don’t even know if it’s there anymore, because I’ve already been released.”
Lyde ended the video on an upbeat note: “I’m not worried about this,” he said, “and you shouldn’t be either.”
The person answering the phone at the Clay County Sheriff’s office said she was not authorized to disclose any information; a voicemail left with a deputy sheriff was not immediately returned.
The case is The State of Texas vs. Jeffrey C. Lyde.
Read the indictments:
Watch Lyde’s video:
This is a developing story and will be updated