Johnson County Sheriff's Deputy Says He Was Fired for Job-Induced PTSD
On a Sunday night in January 2010, Johnson County deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call on a rural road a couple of miles south of Mansfield.
The husband, 33-year-old Joshua Adam Lewis, had gotten drunk and begun arguing with his wife and insulting her dead father. The argument escalated, and he ended up hitting his 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son, then chasing the rest of the family from the house with a baseball bat, according to court records.
By the time the deputies arrived, Lewis was alone in front of the house, armed with the bat. He refused to surrender and ignored repeated calls to drop the weapon, instead yelling threats and promising to go inside and get a gun. Deputy Jared Fuller was already heading to the rear of the house to cut off escape when Lewis emerged from the back door.
According to the Cleburne Times-Review, Lewis charged at Fuller, who fired off a single round.
Lewis recovered and eventually was convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against a public servant and injury to a child (a conviction that was later overturned on appeal, but the experience haunted Fuller. According to a lawsuit filed Thursday against the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, he began suffering from depression, sleep problems, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He received counseling through the sheriff's office for about six months before being returned to active patrol duty. He says he was denied additional treatment and began being reprimanded for minor oversights and incidents in which he was not involved in. He claims he was told by his bosses on several occasions that they were looking for a reason to fire him.
That finally happened January 29, 2012. Officially, he was let go for violating department policy barring officers from being involved in a public disturbance. The lawsuit suggests this was a response to an incident a week earlier in which deputies were called to his house following an argument with his fiancee. According to the lawsuit, his bosses accused him of assaulting his fiancee, something he denies.
Now, Fuller claims he is entitled to unspecified damages, back pay, and a $50,000 civil penalty under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Johnson County not only failed to make reasonable accommodation for his disability as required by the law, it also fired him because of his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.