HOUSTON -- When crooks went on a $3,000 shopping spree using bogus checks in her good name, Carol Wheatfall did what all of us would—she went to file a police report.
I-Team: “You’re thinking what?”
Wheatfall: “That it would be taken care of right away.”
I-Team: “The cops are on the case.”
But the case went absolutely nowhere. Not for a few days or even a few weeks, but a year and a half. Why? Because the Harris County Sheriff's Deputy who took Wheatfall's information never bothered to enter it into the system.
"That's not acceptable," Wheatfall said.
"They need to do their job, I mean if we go in and file a police report, we trust that what they say they're going to do we're going to do it," she said.
But it's not the only case. The I-Team found dozens of offense reports over the past few years either written late, or never written at all at the Harris County Sheriff's Department. They were for crimes ranging from forgery, burglary, identity theft, and credit card abuse.
So what happened?
" ‘Forgot about it, I should have done it', and that just didn't fly," said Major Clint Greenwood, who over sees the Sheriff's Department's Internal Affairs Section..
I-Team: “Do those citizens deserve better?”
Greenwood: “Yes absolutely, and this department takes that duty very seriously."
Greenwood pointed out that the few dozen botched reports made up less than one percent of all calls for service during the time.
But if you ask attorney Susan Myres, just one case is one too many.
"They messed up,” Myres said.
Myres said a client, Dr. Karen Gunn, was threatened at gunpoint by her estranged husband Graham Gunn.
"He had the gun pointed at her, pointed at her mouth," Myres said.
But despite Harris County Sheriff Deputies making the scene, no report was ever filed.
“I am at a loss as to why a report was not filed,” Myres said.
“To this day, I don't understand why a report wasn't filed."
There were legal consequences. Myres said without an offense report, she decided not to seek a protective order in court. And the reason?
“It looked like an officer investigated and found no validity in what happened," Myres said.
But what happened five months later was a horrific tragedy. At the family's home in the Woodlands, Graham Gunn killed his wife then turned the gun on himself. The estranged couple’s daughter witnessed the shooting.
As for the deputy who should have filed the original crime report?
"I don't think it would be right to blame him for her death," Myres said.
But she said Deputy Larry Jenkins should own up to his mistake.
The I-Team caught up with Jenkins outside his home.
I-Team: “Why wouldn't you write a report on that?”
Jenkins: “Excuse me sir.”
I-Team: “You have nothing to say for yourself?”
Jenkins wouldn’t address the issue, but his union attorney defended him.
"Deputy Jenkins is a fine deputy,” said Carson Joachim with the Harris County Deputies’ Organization.
"He has the discretion on whether he wants to generate an offense report or not," Joachim said.
But Major Greenwood disagreed.
Greenwood: “The deputy or the police officer responding must file a report.”
I-Team: “No gray areas.”
Greenwood: “No gray areas whatsoever."
And so the department launched an internal investigation into Deputy Jenkins.
His punishment at the end of the day? A week off without pay. Jenkins later appealed his suspension, but it was ultimately upheld.