HOUSTON—Both candidates in the Harris County Sheriff Republican primary run-off election have internal affairs disciplinary histories, including domestic violence and abuse of power, according to documents obtained by the I-Team.
Consider Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Carl Pittman, who was accused in 2008 of physically abusing his wife Kristi Pittman.
“I was sitting on the couch and he kind of came at me and was just kind of yelling at me and stuff and I said something smart and he did hit me,” Kristi Pittman told Internal Affairs investigators in a recorded interview.
Investigator: “Which side of your face?”
Kristi Pittman: “It was, well, it had to have been my left side because it was the left eye and it did black my eye.”
It wasn’t just one, but two supposed incidents. In the second:
Pittman: “It was with his fist, fist, he just kind of swung out you know.”
Investigator: “So he did punch you in the rib area.”
Kristi Pittman: “In the rib area, yeah.”
But ask Carl Pittman now and he denies it ever happened.
I-Team: “Did you strike your wife?”
Carl Pittman: “I did not.”
But a polygraph examination ordered by the Internal Affairs Division found Pittman “untruthful” when asked if he hit his wife.
I-Team: “Why did you fail a polygraph test?”
Pittman: “You know, I tell you, I’m not a polygraph examiner, and I only understand that polygraphs are investigative tools, they’re not accepted in one court in this land.”
As for Kristi Pittman, she changed her story the very day after her interview with internal affairs investigators. And the reason?
“I was intimidated by the officers that came to my job and confronted me in the lobby of the place I had worked for 18 years,” Kristi Pittman said.
“Carl is a good man and I stand by him,” she added.
I-Team: “When the public sees these contradictions and these stories changing, what are they to believe?”
Carl Pittman: “Well you know, everyone has a different test for what they hear, what they see and what they believe.”
Meanwhile, Former Sheriff’s Lieutenant Louis Guthrie has a disciplinary history of his own.
I-Team: “Are you a hothead?’
Guthrie: “Absolutely not.”
In 1999, he served a 12-day suspension for physically abusing a nightclub patron during an extra job. Then in 2009, internal affairs cited him for official oppression for an incident at an Humble car wash.
Guthrie’s wife claimed someone had stolen $17 from her vehicle, so she called her husband. Records show Guthrie clocked on duty early and then shut down the business with crime scene tape for the better part of an hour. Guthrie was terminated over the incident, but maintains:
I-Team: “Did you do anything wrong?”
I-Team: “You’re sure about that, you feel comfortable with that.”
In May, a Harris County district court judge overturned the termination, and sent the case back to the Harris County Civil Service Commission for further proceedings on Guthrie’s job status. He claims his firing was politically motivated.
“I am a guy who is out in front and being out in front and being loud, that will draw certain criticisms,” Guthrie said.
The Harris County Attorney’s office, which represents the Sheriff’s Department, is appealing the judge’s order in Guthrie’s case. While the case is pending, he remains a former employee of the department.
Carl Pittman received a letter of reprimand for being deceptive during the domestic violence investigation. Pittman has had a clean internal affairs history since.
The Republican run-off election is set for July 31.