Internal HPD investigation reveals 24 homicide cases mishandled

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by Jeremy Rogalaski / KHOU 11 I-Team and KHOU.com staff

khou.com

Posted on April 4, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 4 at 10:10 PM

HOUSTON – An internal investigation by the Houston Police Department revealed that 24 cases were mishandled within the Homicide Division resulting in the firing of one officer and the discipline of several others, the police chief announced Friday afternoon.

HPD Chief Charles A. McClelland Jr. said at a press conference that Sgt. Ryan Chandler has been fired, while two lieutenants, two sergeants and four officers were disciplined as a result of an extensive Internal Affairs investigation into investigative processes and procedures within the Homicide Division.

The announcement came after several KHOU 11 I-Team investigative reports over the last couple of weeks about the internal investigation.

According to McClelland, a total of 24 cases, with the oldest dating back to 2004, were identified with deficiencies including "not conducting proper follow-up, not entering documentation in a timely manner, insufficient documentation or none at all."

The majority of the deficiencies occurred between 2008 and 2012, McClelland said.

McClelland said their internal investigation determined that the major problems were the direct result of the actions of Chandler, and "not pervasive throughout the division." Out of the 24 cases, 21 were connected to Chandler.

According to the investigation:

"Chandler was less than forthright with his supervisors and fellow employees, failed to conduct proper follow-up in the manner in which he was trained and expected to perform, and appeared to have taken advantage of the trust placed in him as a supervisor in the Homicide Division."

Also, McClelland said that during the Internal Affairs investigation, Chandler was untruthful.

“He was a liar, he was not forthright with his supervisors,” McClelland said.

The police union is appealing Chandler’s termination.

“I don’t believe that to be a true statement,” Bob Armbruster, attorney for the Houston Police Union, said. “That may be the chief’s impression, and I think we’ll be able to punch some holes in that.”

Chandler was cited for “attention to duty, untruthfulness, insubordination, evidentiary procedure and controls and sound judgment.”

Meantime, HPD said two other homicide cases not handled properly had been assigned to Ed Gonzalez, now a member of the Houston City Council. Gonzalez said it was an oversight that he took those files home with him when he retired from HPD in 2009.

Along with Chandler, four other officers, K. Carr, B. Oxspring, R. Moreno and L. Lovelace were each cited for attention to duty for other policy violations in these cases in question:

  • Carr received a 10-day suspension
  • Lovelace received a 5-day suspension
  • Moreno received a 2-day suspension
  • Oxspring received a written reprimand

Also cited for their involvement were three other supervisors, Lts. J. McGalin and R. Lakind and Sgt. B. Roberts:

  • Roberts received a 5-day suspension
  • McGalin received a one-day suspension
  • Lakind received a written reprimand

“I want to let the public know that in no way is this indicative of the 5,300 men and women, who work hard every day in protecting and serving this city,” McClelland said. “I also want to state that I have complete confidence in the Homicide Division. I fully expect all my commanders to constantly look for ways to make things better and improve processes and procedures. This investigation is an example of how we look for deficiencies and develop better processes.”

McClelland said HPD will continue to pursue each and every lead as it pertains to homicide investigations.

He also said that new processes and procedures have been put in place as a result of this investigation such as stricter mandates/controls regarding file submissions, improved file preparation, tighter security controls and documentation of the file room and creation of automated management reports.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker released the following statement in regards to HPD’s investigation:

“The severity of this cannot be minimized. The victims and family members involved in these cases deserved better. However, the action of a few individuals should not devalue the work done by the rest of the homicide division, or by the 5,300 men and women who serve and protect our city on a daily basis.

“Chief McClelland has taken effective and corrective action regarding the officers involved and has tightened policies and procedures to keep this from happening again. The public can rest assured that HPD will pursue every possible lead when it comes to murder investigations.”

HPD turned over the findings of their internal investigation to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office including the evidence discovered on Chandler. However, the DA’s Office declined charges.

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