By William Melhado, The Texas Tribune
“Sheriff says U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson cursed at officers, threatened his job in rodeo altercation” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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Editor’s note: This story contains explicit language.
U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, threatened to beat up a state trooper and take down the Carson County sheriff in the next election after deputies detained the congressmen at a rodeo outside of Amarillo in July, according to a sheriff’s incident report released Friday night.
The report said that Jackson screamed profanities at deputies who were trying to clear the area for emergency medical workers to attend to a teenager who was having a seizure. Deputies asked the former White House physician to step back four times before they put Jackson in handcuffs, according to their reports.
After the congressman was released, he demanded Carson County Sheriff Tam Terry call him and investigate the incident. During that call, Terry, a Republican, said that Jackson warned him that he would “bury me in the next election.”
The events described in the report starkly contrasted with the congressman’s public statement just days after the July 29 incident. A spokesperson for Jackson said at the time that he was detained amid a “very loud and chaotic environment” and was released as soon as law enforcement realized he was trying to help. Notably the statement said Jackson was sitting “in the stands during the entire rodeo, in full view of the assembled crowd, and was not drinking.”
But according to an account from Chief Deputy JC Blackburn, the GOP congressman was seen drinking backstage of the rodeo event. A Jackson aide disputed that in a statement Friday.
“Congressman Jackson was not drinking and was prevented from giving medical care in a potentially life-threatening situation due to overly aggressive and incompetent actions by the local authorities present at the time of the incident,” said Kate Lair, a spokesperson for Jackson. “Again, he was asked to help the teenager when no other uniformed medics were present. Congressman Jackson, as a trained ER physician, will not apologize for sparing no effort to help in a medical emergency, especially when the circumstances were chaotic and the local authorities refused to help the situation.”
The sheriff’s report, released to The Texas Tribune in response to a public information request, includes several accounts from deputies detailing what happened at the White Deer rodeo. After a teenager collapsed at the event, onlookers began to gather around her and EMS asked Department of Public Safety Trooper Young to clear the crowd, which included Jackson who said he was helping assist the patient. The report did not include the first name of many law enforcement officials present at the scene.
Young ordered Jackson to step back and moved him back. According to Deputy Alexander, Jackson pointed to Young and said, “I’m going to beat that mother fuckers’ ass!”
The congressman later told Terry that in his attempt to care for the patient, he thought it was safe to put a gumball in the patient’s mouth as a way to elevate her blood sugar. But in an exchange included in the report between Terry and White Deer EMS provider Kimberly Thomas, Thomas says that the gum presents a choking hazard to patients having a seizure, and that most gum is sugar free and thus would not address low blood sugar.
Due to Jackson’s extremely agitated state, in which he continued to yell profanities, deputies brought him to the ground and placed the congressman in handcuffs, according to the report. Officers then escorted Jackson out of the rodeo grounds and removed the handcuffs, while he continued to scream profanities at Trooper Young. After the congressman was released, his wife, Jane Jackson, approached the deputies and demanded their information before their group got into a Black SUV and left the scene.
Later that evening the Sheriff Terry received a text from dispatch that read, “Congressman Ronny Jackson wants a phone call tonight referencing something that happened at the rodeo.”
When Terry called Jackson at the provided number, the congressman said he was “fucking pissed” about the incident, and said the deputies had used bad judgment. He demanded an investigation and consequences for the deputies involved. After threatening to “bury” the sheriff in the next election, Jackson ended the call with the phrase, “Game on,” Terry wrote in the report.
Law enforcement officials have not yet released footage of the incident, but Terry’s report said that he has reviewed tapes and agreed that the deputies actions were justified.
Jackson was first elected in 2020 to represent the 13th Congressional District, a deeply conservative district in the Panhandle. He is one of Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress and a vocal booster of his 2024 comeback campaign.
He served as White House physician for both Barack Obama and Donald Trump before becoming a congressman. In 2018, he was nominated by Trump to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. But Jackson withdrew from consideration amid allegations of professional misconduct, including drinking on the job and overprescribing medication.
A 2021 investigative report by the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Defense found that Jackson disparaged employees, engaged in “alcohol-related misconduct” and made sexual comments about a female employee under his supervision.
The report also found that Jackson took sleeping pills during official travel and cited witness testimony that he was drunk while on duty during a presidential trip to Argentina. But the inspector general was unable to corroborate those claims and noted that there was no policy against the use of Ambien during long overseas flights.
At the time, Jackson denied the allegations in the report and called it a “political hit job” that “purposely left out key facts.”
Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.
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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2023/08/11/ronny-jackson-rodeo-altercation/.
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