Bland: City hiding origin of phony complaint

Gallivan asking Texas Rangers to investigate

Matt Coday

The Texas Rangers have been asked to investigate the City of Odessa over a mysterious text message received by Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke hinting well-known Republican agitator Matt Coday was burglarizing homes.

Former Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland asked current District Attorney Dusty Gallivan to reach out to the Rangers because he and his client, Coday, believe city officials may be abusing their power in order to not release the name of the texter or investigate them for false reporting.

Gallivan confirmed he has forwarded a letter from Bland to the Rangers. He declined to comment further.

According to police records obtained by the Odessa American under the Texas Public Information Act, Gerke received a text from someone on Dec. 18 stating they had seen someone near Bainbridge Drive in the Country Club area “walking around in and out of houses.”

The texter also told Gerke the man was driving a Ford F250 and provided him with a license plate that returned to Coday, reports stated.

Officers were unable to find Coday in the area or at his apartment, but contacted him by phone. Coday has recorded all the conversations he had with various OPD staff about why they were seeking to speak with him.

The conversations indicate the officers were acting at the behest of someone who had texted Gerke. Coday repeatedly seeks to find out who asked the police to find him.

According to the police report, Coday refused to tell officers if he was in the area or not until he was told who called the police on him. He was informed they could not.

“Since there was no crime that had been committed, Cpl. (Taylor) Miley and Sgt. (Jon) Foust were instructed to just do information narratives on the incident,” Captain Darryl Smith wrote in his report.

Coday contacted the Odessa American upset the Odessa Police Department did not investigate the texter for false reporting. Coday is well-known for calling out Mayor Javier Joven and councilmembers Denise Swanner and Mark Matta on Facebook. He regularly hazes Swanner for once posting she had lunch with Josiah Vargas, which is a fake Facebook profile used to bully Odessans, and has accused the trio and Ector County Republican Chairwoman Tisha Crow of supporting controversial figure Casey Gray over Rep. Brooks Landgraf during the last election and also of bullying via Facebook fake profiles.

Coday said he was visiting his parents in Andrews at the time of the call and someone aligned with Crow and the others texted Gerke.

Kris and Tisha Crow live in the area where Coday was reported as being seen.

Coday is now alleging officials aligned with that group could be abusing their positions by not investigating the texter and by shielding his or her identity.

Neither Coday nor the Odessa American have been able to get the texter’s name via Public Information Act requests. While the city provided the OA several texts, it’s difficult to ascertain who wrote some of them as either the names have been redacted or cut off. Adding to the confusion is the fact several of the texts were apparently copied and pasted to multiple individuals.

Bland has written two letters to Gallivan asking for the investigation. In each, Coday recited the events of that morning.

In the first letter, the men wrote: “An outside agency other than the Odessa Police Department is necessary to investigate whether the city is using its resources to protect City Manager John Beckmeyer and/or any political allies.”

In the subsequent letter dated Thursday, Coday explained he was told by at least one officer Beckmeyer received the initial text and then relayed it to Gerke, but the officer later said he could not confirm that it was Beckmeyer. The recordings Coday have back that up.

“It was my belief that he had inadvertently provided information that he was not supposed to provide me,” Coday wrote. “I understand that it could have been someone else who had access to Chief Gerke’s cell phone number and provided this false information.”

Coday went on to write that he believes the city is trying to “protect not only the person that made the complaint, but the person who conveyed this information to Chief Gerke.”

City officials insist it was Gerke who received the text.

In response to the OA’s TPIA seeking the police report and texts, City Attorney Dan Jones asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office on Dec. 29 for permission to keep the texter’s name private.

“The text message…was sent to the Chief of Police with the assumption of staying anonymous and listed as a confidential informant,” Jones wrote. “The city believes that the release of this information would cause harm to the complainant and deter them from submitting future complaints.”

He also told the AG’s Office the case was actively being investigated and charges could be brought and releasing the texter’s name could hinder investigators.

On Feb. 5, Jones sent a follow up email to the AG’s office making a new argument. Jones told the AG that the “complainant was notifying the Police Chief of a possibly (sic) stalking situation.”

The texts received by the OA from that morning make no reference to stalking. Nor do the police reports.

“They’re going so far to protect this individual who made this complaint that they’re willing to change the facts of the case to make them even more privileged,” Bland said Wednesday evening. “I mean, of course the attorney general doesn’t want to give out information if somebody is stalking someone, but there’s no basis of fact and the information they’re trying to protect has nothing to do with stalking.”

“It’s kind of like one of those things. Well, if these things don’t work, we’ll throw other things up against the wall and they don’t care if it’s contradictory or even if it aligns with the facts of the case,” he said.

The motive of the texter is obvious, but what isn’t clear is why OPD didn’t investigate them, Bland said.

“Obviously they’re trying to report him (Coday) to get him arrested. Someone made this report with his license plate for getting him arrested for a felony and nobody’s doing anything to investigate it or dig into it,” Bland said. “I don’t know about you, but it seems like to me if the police knew someone had falsely sent them information and wasted their time, they would want to know why somebody was doing that and the city wouldn’t be using their resources to defend someone that did that. If they’re defending somebody we need to know why they’re doing that.”

Bland said they’re treating whoever made this report, someone who should be investigated for making a false report, as though they’re a victim.

The former prosecutor also noted that Jones told the AG’s office it’s an ongoing investigation “when their own police report said there is no further investigation being done.”

Bland won’t speculate on why Coday is being targeted, but he said there are people who obviously don’t like him and investigators are welcome to ask him what he thinks the motive might be.

“Obviously my client is concerned and feels it’s less than a coincidence when we learned that there’s been secret meetings to target their enemies and this coincides with that,” Bland said.

People have come forward to allege the Ector County Republican Party hosted a two-day training in November where an enemies list was created and precinct chairs were trained on subversive tactics.

The Odessa American has filed a complaint with the AG’s office for the City changing the narrative on why they don’t want to release the name of the person who texted Gerke.