Dallas Police Say City Councilman Scott Griggs Coerced a City Staffer

Dallas City Councilman Scott Griggs is accused of using his position to influence the actions of a member of the Dallas City Secretary's Office, the Dallas police announced late today.

In a short press release, the Dallas Police Department said it had submitted the results of its investigation into Griggs for Coercion of Public Servant, a third degree felony, to the Dallas County grand jury, which will decide whether to charge Griggs. The staffer he's accused of coercing is Assistant City Secretary Bilirae Johnson.

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Griggs yelled at Johnson when Johnson refused to do something for the Oak Cliff councilman, who is running unopposed in this month's election.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a circumspect statement about the investigation:

"I have great respect the people involved in this case and I hope that it comes to a fair and just resolution soon.

This matter is being handled in accordance with proper Dallas Police Department procedures. The Dallas County District Attorney will determine the next steps. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the specifics of the matter.

We all have a responsibility to be civil and to treat the hard-working people who run this city with the respect and compassion that they deserve. We must conduct ourselves with appropriate decorum and set an example for our constituents and fellow public servants."

Griggs' attorneys issued a statement just before 6 p.m. Friday:

According to Larry Friedman, attorney for Councilmember Scott Griggs, the charges against Councilmember Scott Griggs are unfounded, baseless, and without merit. Councilmember Griggs is well known for his integrity and for being a champion of transperancy and accountability at City Hall. Co-counsel for Councilmember Griggs, Anthony Lyons, states that this is an apparent effort to intimidate Scott Griggs and stop him from releasing information that he has pointing to wrongdoing at City Hall.

In an interview with the News, Friedman added that Griggs plans to release "explosive" information about the Trinity River Corridor project, and that the investigation was City Hall's effort to silence him.

Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez issued his own statement:

The Dallas Police Department has conducted an investigation into allegations that Dallas City Councilmember Scott Griggs improperly influenced or attempted to influence Assistant City Secretary Bilirae Johnson in the performance of her official duties.

After concluding the investigation, Chief David Brown believes that the nature of these allegations warrants further action, and has referred all testimony and other evidence to a Dallas County Grand Jury.

Any allegations of this nature are taken seriously at the City of Dallas, and I want all City employees to know that their safety and security is my highest priority. I have the utmost confidence in Chief Brown and the Dallas Police Department and the manner in which they have handled this investigation.

Because the matter is now in the hands of the Grand Jury, it is inappropriate for me to comment any further at this time.

Update 10:11 p.m.: DPD has released the police report from the incident. Griggs, apparently angry about the potential improper posting of briefing materials for the mayor's special Trinity toll road city council meeting two weeks ago, told Johnson she "better not push those briefing materials out or I will break your fucking fingers," according to Johnson.

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