After a tearful appeal Thursday by Rosa Kelley, the mother of Greg Kelley, the Cedar Park City Council went into executive session and then returned to announce their intentions to order an independent investigation into the police department’s handling of the 2014 Greg Kelley conviction for child abuse.
The Cedar Park City Council motioned to direct the city manager and city attorney for a recommendation as to how the city could move forward with an independent review of the Police Department’s policies and procedures “pursuant to governing law and Civil Service procedures.”
Kelley, a former Leander football player, was convicted of abusing a four-year-old child and is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence. However, his conviction is under review by a Williamson County General District Court because of alleged errors made by police and others during the investigation.
At a civilized, but contentious, council meeting last week, speaker after speaker demanded the resignations of Cedar Park Police Chief Sean Mannix and the detective who headed the Kelley investigation, Sgt. Chris Dailey. After the recess to allow the council to go into executive session, Mayor Matt Powell said the council had ordered an independent investigation into the police department's actions in the case.
Powell said the City Council was asking the city manager and city attorney to move forward with an independent review of the police department’s policies and procedures in the Kelley case and then recommend a course of action.
“At this time, obviously, the council is not able to comment on ongoing legal proceedings,” Powell said. “But let's not forget a reprehensible crime has been committed against a child. It’s our steadfast hope and belief the legal system will continue to run its course to ensure swift and accurate justice.”
Greg Kelley's family and supporters have also expressed sympathy for the victim in the case, but said that concern does not remove the stain that they said has spread over the Cedar Park Police Department as a result of the Kelley investigation.
"I am here to let you know how painful it is to see a young man's dreams destroyed," Rosa Kelley said.
Kelley, who said she had lived in the Cedar Park area for 25 years, said Sgt. Daily singled out her son as a suspect and "never tried to find out who we were. My son was a good student and a good person."
While expressing support for police officers in general, Ms. Kelley said, "I want to ask for the termination of Chief Mannix and the resignation of Sgt.Dailey."
Her comments were echoed by a long line of friends, family and supporters who spoke at the packed council meeting, which included more than 50 off-duty police officers.
The Thursday council meeting followed a three-day hearing in a Williamson County General District Court that focused on the investigation and Greg Kelley's conviction. During testimony at the hearing, Texas Ranger Cody Mitchell testified that, in his opinion, the Cedar Park Police Department made over a dozen lapses in procedure in investigating the case.
The Cedar Park police investigation has also been criticized by current Williamson County District Attorney Shawn Dick who reopened the investigation into Kelley's conviction last January. District Judge Donna King is expected to rule this month on whether or not to recommend to the Texas Court of Criminal appeals that Kelley be exonerated or given a new trial.
At the council meeting Thursday, Kristy Whitley, the president of the Cedar Park Police Association, voiced support for the police department and the police chief.
"Chief Mannix is a true example of someone who works tirelessly to lead and support the men and women of our department," Whitley said.
Most speakers at the council meeting, however, were critical of Chief Mannix, Sgt. Dailey and the way the Kelley investigation was handled. "I hope you will hold them responsible," said Mike Lapaglia. "What we saw testified to in last week's hearing was a tragedy.”
Mayor Powell and the city attorney reminded Kelley's supporters and the audience that the city council does not have the authority to fire anyone. Personnel actions can only be taken by the city attorney and the city manager, Powell said.