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Lawsuit: Couple says City of Austin is separating them against their will

A lawsuit filed by an Austin police detective and his wife says the couple is not being allowed to communicate due to a No Contact Order issued by the APD.
Credit: Micha? Chodyra
Photo: Thinkstock

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin couple is suing the City, alleging that they are being kept apart against their will. That's according to both the lawsuit and a release from The James Wood Law Firm.

The firm's release states that Austin Police Det. Timothy Hoppock and his wife, Andrea Hoppock, are suing the City of Austin for an "inexplicable and shocking violation of their constitutional rights." 

According to the lawsuit, on or about Jan. 28, the couple had an argument that led to a call being made to the Austin Police Department. The suit states that, in retrospect, both Timothy and Andrea Hoppock "agree that the call to the police was unnecessary and regrettable."

The suit states that by the time anyone from the APD reached out to either plaintiff, the argument had been resolved and the couple had already made amicable arrangements for their "cooperation and cohabitation," as well as the continued joint care of their 11-year-old son. 

The suit goes on to say that "without request by either Mr. or Mrs. Hoppock, and without real need," on Feb. 2, APD Chief Joseph Chacon issued a no contact order to Timothy Hoppock, mandating that he have no communication with his wife. 

The suit states that since the order's implementation, the Hoppocks have been unable to communicate at all on such matters as "the care and wellbeing of their mutual child, finances, a shared home, marital relations and more." 

"In effect, Hoppock could be fired for communicating with his own wife. Texas law upholds the right to privacy and respects the sanctity of marriage, and an unwanted intrusion into a marriage is in no way supported by either state or federal law," The James Wood Law Firm stated in its release.

The suit says that to date, the defendant – the City of Austin, as the legal body of the APD – has refused the Hoppocks' multiple requests to rescind the no contact order. The lawsuit seeks to have a judge "quickly invalidate the City's overstep" and penalize the City with monetary damages.

"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," James Wood, attorney for Andrea Hoppock, said in the firm's release.

The suit states that the nature of the No Contact Order violates the Hoppock family's "1st Amendment Rights to free speech, 14th Amendment Rights as to Due Process, infringes upon Texas statutory law as to marital rights, and impedes both Mr. and Mrs. Hoppock’s parental rights."

The City of Austin provided the following statement Monday afternoon:

“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.”

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