AUSTIN—The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, or CLEAT, was contacted through its 24-hour member contact system that an officer involved shooting (OIS) had occurred in Fort Worth, Texas in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 12, 2019.
CLEAT’s internal communication program, the Critical Incident Response Team, or CIRT was first alerted through the on-call attorney system. Afterward, the alert through CIRT was made through Austin State Headquarters at 3 a.m. This proprietary system is used as the second tier of notifications for union lawyers, senior staff, and elected board members across the state. At that time, a local attorney, who is not a CLEAT employee, was dispatched to the scene to be present with the officers involved. At no time were the officers’ personal information shared with CLEAT employees or communicated outside of client/attorney protocols. That remains true, even at this hour.
Former Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on or around 11:40 a.m. on Monday, October 14, 2019. Mr. Dean was subsequently arrested on murder charges and booked into the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department yesterday afternoon. He has since been released from jail after posting bond. Media reports stating that CLEAT posted his bail or contributed financially in any manner toward posting bond are absolutely false.
This afternoon CLEAT has been notified that Mr. Dean has chosen the Fort Worth law firm of Jim Lane as his legal defense representative. That decision was also made solely by Mr. Dean.
“Like any American citizen accused of a criminal act, Mr. Dean has the right to legal counsel and the right to defend himself in court. All his rights remain in place under the U.S. Constitution. As a dues-paying union member, CLEAT has a fiduciary duty to Mr. Dean under the ‘CLEAT Legal Plan Document’ that covers all official police work, whether on-duty or off-duty, if the officer was working in their official scope and duty,” said Robert Leonard, CLEAT General Counsel and retired New York City Police Officer. “CLEAT’s duty to fund a portion of Mr. Dean’s legal defense is clearly outlined in our organization’s legal plan. Mr. Dean is free to pick any criminal defense law firm he so chooses.”
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, CLEAT temporarily closed its North Texas Regional offices in downtown Fort Worth and sent employees home after receiving threats transmitted via telephone and internet.
“This is a tough time for all the people who are hurting from this unexpected tragedy,” said CLEAT Executive Director, Charley Wilkison. “There are folks out there who believe we are a police agency. Many don’t really understand our role in protecting worker’s rights. Some may have misplaced anger at the union and are lashing out. Regardless of the climate, this union will do its job. Out of an abundance of caution, we are sending the CLEAT Staff assigned to our Fort Worth offices home for the week,” he said.
The other 11 offices across the state will remain open.