May 29, 2008— -- The police chief of a Texas town that allowed NBC "Dateline's" "To Catch A Predator" to film stings of alleged sexual predators was fired this week. A city official says the police department's controversial participation with the sex-sting show had nothing to do with the firing of Chief Billy Myrick, but that a "change in leadership was necessary."
As ABC News' "20/20" reported last year, the Murphy police department made a deal with "Dateline" in 2006 to allow NBC camera crews to record stings of alleged Internet sexual predators and to let people hired by "Dateline" actually set up and run the sting.
The production ended tragically when one of the alleged offenders, an assistant district attorney from a neighboring county, committed suicide when "Dateline" cameras showed up at his home in the company of Murphy police after the man failed to show up to the sting house.
Former Murphy police officers told ABC News that the decision to go to the suspect's home was made at the suggestion of the host of the program, NBC's Chris Hansen.
Then-police chief Myrick denied these claims. "The television network did not take over the law enforcement operation in no shape, form or fashion," Myrick told ABC News last year.
NBC also has denied it played any role in the decision to go to the man's home and make the arrest, which involved a SWAT team breaking down the man's door after he did not answer.
As for the 23 other alleged sexual predators arrested in Murphy during production, the district attorney threw out all the cases saying the police's reliance on "Dateline's" investigation compromised the evidence obtained.
Myrick, however, at the time insisted that his department behaved properly. "We know we did a right thing. We went out on a mission to arrest bad people that were here to harm the children of this community," he told ABC News. "People were coming here because they actually believed that they were actually talking to a 12- or 13-year-old child. That's it. No different than any law enforcement mission that we take on every day of the week."