Tag Archives: hpou

Video of HPD Killing Nicolas Chavez Released

Four Houston PD cops were fired for the killing of Nicolas Chavez.

A well-prepared, yet, sickening video showing the various police bodycam vantage points of the Nicolas Chavez killing was released to the public  Thursday afternoon, with a play-by-play of the killing by the HPD Chief. The Chief and the cops union seem to have provided some points of defense for the fired cops, from a criminal case point of view.

It was not lost on me that the Chief (and therefore the City of Houston) took somewhat of a middle road in stating that at least two of the bullets shot into Chavez were “justified,” but that the final multi-cop volley of 21 shots were bothersome enough to fire the cops.

Of course, the cops union felt that all of the bullets were justified–even the last 21 shots. The Chief disagreed as the cops have been trained to use time as a means of deescalating a situation. I would think that allowing for more time in this situation would have effected a better outcome. The cops had already taken the time and used their training in attempting to do so.

I could go into what I think after watching the video, but I’ll leave that to the experts that I hope are utilized in explaining it to a grand jury. I just think that an already spent taser (left on the ground by one of the cops) that Chavez pulled toward himself using the wires that had already been shot into him would have done more damage to Chavez than to the cops based on what I’ve read about those contraptions. Therefore, 21 shots fired at will by four cops were not justified and such a violent reaction by the cops was not necessary.

The DA Kim Ogg has stated that the case will be presented to the grand jury once her people have reviewed the evidence. I hope it is presented well.

It is disappointing that it has taken over four months to get to this point. It would seem to me that the elaborate video presentation was more about defending the firing of the cops than about prosecuting a crime. The Chief has a knack for putting on a show when calling out crime and criminals to the cameras, but not in this case.

To watch the Chief’s presentation, click here.

 

 

Jackson: Reform Police Union Contracts

Candidate for Houston City Council District B, Tarsha Jackson, who is known as a community and criminal justice reform advocate, posted on her Facebook page what would seem like obvious solutions. At least where reforming an entire system should begin:

My heart is heavy over the constant murders of my Black Brothers and Sister at the hands of our public servants. Forgive me for not being impressed to see police chiefs and elected leaders standing in solidarity with protesters over the murder of our Brother George Floyd. We’ve seen this scene played out over and over again– BUT Until the Police union contracts are reformed, we will continue to witness our brothers and sisters civil and human rights violated by corrupt police officers.

In 2018, after the murder of our Brother Danny Ray Thomas, community members recommended the following NINE changes to Police Union Contracts to ensure accountability and to improve relations between HPD and the community. Our leaders have the power to make these changes today!

RECOMMENDED POLICE UNION CONTRACT CHANGES:

*Establish consideration of misconduct in promotions (Art. 19 Sec. 8): Officers with a history of misconduct should be subject to point deductions from the promotions formula. This will ensure that two otherwise similar promotion candidates can be fairly distinguished based on their prior misconduct.

*Eliminate technicalities and strengthen promotional bypass process (Art. 20) To the extent promotional bypass remains part of the promotions process (we believe it should be eliminated), then the process in this contract is particularly problematic. There should be no arbitrary time limit after which the Chief cannot apply a promotional bypass (delete Art. 20(4)). Once a candidate has been bypassed due to past disciplinary issues, that person should be pulled from the pool. The chief should not be required to bypass that same person over and over and face an appeal each time. The standard for review should be “valid reason” in accordance with normal standards in labor appeals law.

*Provide path to independent investigation (Art. 30 Sub (2), (4) and (7)): Under this contract, investigations must be conducted by Department personnel. State civil service law, by contrast, allows investigations to be conducted by any municipal employee. Houston can only move toward a process of independent civilian (nonsworn) investigation of police complaints if we alter this provision.

*Eliminate officer review of all evidence prior to making a statement: officers should be able to review only their own materials before making a statement, not the statements of everyone else involved and everyone’s video. Allowing the person under investigation to review all the evidence prior to making a statement is not a “best practice” in any circumstance and should not be a special privilege for police officers.

*Eliminate misconduct statute of limitations: After 180 days from the incident date, the most serious misconduct cannot be addressed at all due to an arbitrary “statute of limitations” clause. This is called the “180 day” rule and is a major problem. It should be eliminated. Serious misconduct should be sanctionable even if the Chief learns about it long after it occurred. If it cannot be eliminated, the time period should be lengthened to at least 365 days.

*Prevent appropriate disciplinary action from being overturned on appeal: Under this contract, when an officer appeals his sanction the burden of proof is on the Chief, and the proof includes 1. the truth of the charges and 2. that a just cause exists for the specific discipline imposed. Instead the burden should be on the officer to prove that the discipline was not reasonable. And, while clearly the charges should always be true, the second clause requires the Chief to prove, in a side by side test with other cases, that this particular suspension length had “just cause.” This is likely to result in discipline being routinely overturned or reduced. Council should request from the Department a summary of every suspension in the past five years, whether it was appealed, and what was the outcome of the appeal (overturned, upheld, or partially overturned with a lesser discipline).

*Never expunge records of past misconduct or even suspected past misconduct (Art. 31(10)): Police generally oppose efforts by the public to expunge criminal records (even of minor violations) because they say even an arrest on a subsequently dismissed charge might prove important to a criminal investigation later. This same reasoning should apply to all records of all officer misconduct. Nothing should be expunged, and all past history should be available to the Chief for review when a new incident occurs.

*Exculpatory evidence of an officer’s history of misconduct should be a public court document: (Art. 31(12)) This contract creates an unnecessary burden on the courts and attorneys by requiring special legal protections (secrecy) for misconduct information that must be handed over to the defense in a criminal trial. Under the Michael Morton Act, the prosecutor MUST give the defense information about the arresting officer’s history of misconduct if it is exculpatory. The contract should specifically exclude evidence provided to the defense under the Michael Morton Act from 143.089g personnel file protections. The process for providing such evidence to the prosecutor and the defense should be straight forward and then once provided to both parties in the case it should be subsequently posted to a website.

*Limit supervisory interventions and never reduce discipline to a supervisory intervention (Art. 32): Supervisory interventions are not discipline and do not create a disciplinary record, even if they may indicate other problems. Several items should be considered for removal from this supervisory intervention list: improper ticket/citation, improper or untimely response to a call, discourtesy to citizens, refusal to identify self including removal/obscuring/failure to wear name badge; abusive language, disrespect for fellow officers, unauthorized ride-alongs. Further, in no case should more serious discipline be reduced to a “supervisory intervention” because this will also eliminate the record of an officer’s prior misconduct.

Same Characters, Same Border Fear-Mongering

The Lite Gov of Texas told El Cheeto he’d build the wall for him and the orange one ran with it.

“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said.

Talk about boondoggles.

Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you. … You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”

If this doesn’t sound like a competition for kickbacks on kickbacks, I don’t know what else it could be. Of course, there’s also the racist nature of Trump and Patrick who salivate at the thought of banning brown people from the USA.

Patrick’s idea is a 200 mile wall from Brownsville to Falcon Lake–basically, South Texas. And Texas will still spend another billion dollars on the current boondoggle of a “border surge” that has destabilized communities and militarized the border.

Needless to say, the Texas legislative session just got a little more interesting.

Here in Houston, Chief Art Acevedo joined the debate by stating that the border issue is overblown and that more money is needed for law enforcement on the streets of Houston. A recent murder of a child by alleged gang members has brought the gang issue back into the light.

ABC13 reported on this with the cops union boss blaming the border and immigrants for Houston crime, thus supporting Trump’s policies. This is nothing new as the cops union has supported racist policies like SB4, 287g and Secure Communities in the past.

This is why I’ve always told “progressive” politicians: Stay away from bigoted policies and those who support them! You’ll never out-bigot the bigots.

I’m expecting border issues to become localized as the cops union gets involved and somehow it all makes it into the mayoral debates of 2019. When Houston is experiencing a host of issues, lack of money, and lack of political will, blaming others for problems is to be expected.

Stay tuned, folks.

Catching Up on Local Political Stuff

Cops Endorse

I haven’t been a fan of HPOU ever since they supported racial profiling of Latinos for immigration purposes. You see, some of us good liberals never forget. I always hope that some of my favorite candidates vie for the nod then throw it back in their faces. Of course, I’m always disappointed. Earlier this week, some activists protested at HPOU requesting that they not back the current racial profiling law that is being debated in Austin (SB185). The protesters pretty much got the same message as before from the cops.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia continues to be the only prospect for 2015 to take a stand against SB185, which would directly affect HPD and the City of Houston.

Durrel Douglas for AL5

I’m glad to see Durrel Douglas announce for At-Large 5 against Jack Christie. He’s been a good organizer and activist and will have a lot to say during the campaign.  Douglas, an immigration reform supporter, has already proposed enacting a municipal ID as a means of making Houston more welcoming and safer. I’m looking forward to Durrel elevating the political conversation in this town. It is way overdue.

Make sure you attend Durrel Douglas’ kick-off.

Who Will Run on Fighting Corruption?

Because I got sick of it 10 years ago when airport concessions were being debated.