Brookshire mayor under investigation after removing woman playing audio from council meeting

Mycah Hatfield Image
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Brookshire mayor under investigation after woman removed from meeting
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Brookshire Mayor Darrell Branch is under criminal investigation for removing a woman during a public comment period in a council meeting.

BROOKSHIRE, Texas (KTRK) -- A woman was forcibly removed from a recent Brookshire City Council meeting as she tried to play an audio recording of what she says was the mayor making comments about certain residents.

Aubrey Stanley approached the podium at the May 11 meeting during the public comment period with her phone and a Bluetooth speaker in hand.

"My name is Aubrey Stanley, and I'm here to put this on a public record," she said before the mayor and council. "This is the man you're electing to office today. This is what he said."

Before she could start the recording, Mayor Darrell Branch and his wife, a member of the council, chimed in.

"Ma'am, we are not doing that tonight," Branch said.

Stanley started the audio recording.

A former Brookshire city employee told ABC13 he recorded a meeting with Branch in his office last fall. In the recording, the man he identified as the mayor is heard saying, "I know everybody in this town, even the white folks. There are some white folks in this town who are racist (expletive) (expletive)."

"This is a public figure," Stanley said. "Why are you running for office if you dislike the people of this town so much? I don't understand that. It's appalling."

The audio has started circulating among residents and online.

Stanley said a friend sent it to her, and she found it upsetting.

"He knew the video was out there, and he knew what it was the minute I started playing it," Stanley said.

"If you do that, we will put you out," Branch said to Stanley as she continued to let the recording play. "Cut it off. Cut it off!"

The incident was caught on the city's video recording of the council meeting and later posted online.

Branch was seen coming out from behind the council desk and approaching Stanley as the police chief and another man approached her and forcibly removed her. She said she was dragged all the way out to the exterior door of the building by police.

The audio was dropped off on the city's recording as Stanley was removed.

The Waller County Precinct 3 Constable's Office said they have launched a criminal investigation into Branch for removing Stanley during a public comment period.

The law enforcement agency said Brookshire is not being cooperative with their investigation. They have had to issue a subpoena to get a copy of the video because they believe the version posted online is altered.

"I think if he had just let me play it, it would have gotten a lot less attention than what it did," Stanley said.

ABC13 attempted to find out if Stanley's behavior was in violation of their council's rules of decorum. The rules were not easily accessible online. A City Hall employee did not know where to locate them either.

She felt it was important for residents to hear the audio recording and believes Branch should be removed from office.

He was just re-elected to his second term as mayor earlier this month and was re-sworn in about 10 minutes after Stanley was removed in the same meeting.

Branch is a former longtime police officer for Brookshire.

Records show he has been under investigation by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) at least three times since 2019. His most recent investigation was earlier this year. All three of the investigations dealt with legislatively required continuing education for police.

His first investigation was subject to a minimum 90-day license suspension, according to a letter sent to Branch obtained by ABC13 through TCOLE.

A letter sent to Branch following his second investigation warned a "third-time noncompliance with continuing education standards will result in license revocation."

The third investigation did not result in his police license being revoked, according to records.

ABC13 stopped by Brookshire's City Hall to speak with Branch but was told he was not there. Eyewitness News emailed, called, and texted the mayor but did not receive a response. A City Hall employee later told ABC13 that he would not be returning to his office because he was with his wife, who was at the hospital for dehydration.

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