Swisher County Sheriff Under Investigation, Accused of Misconduct

- TULIA, TX – The Swisher County Sheriff is under investigation for an incident Saturday morning, according to Tulia Police Chief Jeffrey Yarbrough. Lawrence Draine, 23, was stopped by Sheriff Burnie Wells and arrested on a charge of failure to ID. 

Draine and a friend drove from Dimmit to Tulia stopping at random houses, and asking if junked cars in front yards were for sale. Draine’s hobby is to fix them up and then re-sell them.

Draine stopped at the home of Billy Britten, and, according to the police chief, Britten then started following Draine at several stops including a mechanic shop and a gas station. When Draine confronted him, Britten pointed a gun at Draine and called the sheriff. 

When Sheriff Wells arrived at the Rip Griffin parking lot, he told Britten to go home. Sheriff Wells then asked Draine for his driver’s license.

Draine’s girlfriend, Tiffany Smith, said Draine became agitated, asking the Sheriff why Britten was allowed to leave, when he had pointed the gun at them. Sheriff Wells then pulled out his gun and told Draine he was under arrest. 

“Once he got one hand cuffed, he put his gun back in the holster. Then, he slammed him on the ground with his face down,” Smith said. “He had his knee in his back and one of Lawrence’s hands was at the stop the other was cuffed behind his back.”

Smith said after Draine was handcuffed, he tried to move because was being bitten by ants. Smith said Sheriff Wells pushed Draine back on the ground, so Smith used her cell phone to record video.

It shows the Sheriff using physical force on Draine even though he was already handcuffed. Draine was taken to jail. 

Chief Yarbrough said he has one investigation into whether or not Britten pulled a gun on Draine. The other is related the actions of Sheriff Wells.

“We’re also interested in their claim, or looking into their claim, that there was misconduct,” Yarbrough said. “We’re basically collecting information to determine whether or not that is actually accurate.”

Chief Yarbrough said his department will turn its investigation into the County Attorney.

Sheriff Wells is still working for the department, and has not been put on leave. Wells was not elected to the position but appointed after the previous sheriff resigned. 

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