AUSTIN, Texas - An Austin police detective and his wife say a "do-not-contact" order from his boss over a domestic dispute has torn their family apart, and they’re taking the city to court over what they call an overstep by Chief Joseph Chacon.
The lawsuit was filed by Timothy and Andrea Hoppock in Travis County District Court on Thursday.
According to the lawsuit, the Hoppocks have been married for about 12 years, share an 11-year-old son, and have had arguments from time to time. It claims it was one of those typical arguments that unfolded on Jan. 28 at their home in Williamson County.
That argument resulted in a call by Andrea Hoppock to Austin police.
The lawsuit says the couple agreed the call was "unnecessary and regrettable," and "by the time APD reached out to them, the argument had been resolved."
But four days later, Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon issued a no-contact order against Det. Hoppock saying he could have no contact with his wife "on or off duty," no contact with her employer or any of her co-workers or friends.
The order requires Hoppock to obtain written permission to contact his wife, adding, "If you violate this order you will be subject to discipline, up to and including indefinite suspension."
Det. Hoppock signed that order.
In the lawsuit, the couple claims that order violates their first amendment rights, their rights to due process, their marital rights and their parental rights—calling it a "state-forced divorce."
They’re asking the court to void the no contact order and to award them attorney fees and damages.
But in a statement Monday night, the City of Austin defended the order, with a spokesperson issuing a statement reading:
"Last week an APD officer and his wife sued the City of Austin challenging an order issued by Chief Chacon in February 2022. The order requires that the police officer not contact the complainant, who also happens to be his wife, during the pendency of an APD internal affairs investigation, which is underway. The order and internal affairs investigation were prompted by the wife’s allegations and related complaints to law enforcement about her husband. The order is written in a way that allows the spouses to have ordinary, non-threatening communications with one another while the investigation is in progress. APD is responsible for protecting all of our community members. When allegations are made against our officers, they are investigated. To preserve the integrity of the investigatory process, including the safety of witnesses,, we can and have directed officers not to contact complainants or others involved in the investigation."
However, the couple claims that by doing that, the city is causing irreparable harm to them and their child.
Andrea Hoppock’s attorney, James Wood, said in a statement:
"The City Attorney's office is about to have a rough day in court when an elected judge sees them acting like emperors—unilaterally separating families against their will and without concern for their constitutional rights."
It’s unclear if there were any other complaints against Det. Hoppock, aside from that phone call.