HOUSTON The Galena Park Police Department fired a two-year veteran police dispatcher Tuesday morning after the I-Team exposed how the employee circulated a racist photo to others in the department.
The photo shows a white man with a garden hose, spraying an African American boy in the back of the head. The caption reads Go be a ni**er somewhere else.
For Galena Park resident Kerry Morris, the picture is beyond offensive.
It s way past that, c mon! That s ridiculous, Morris said.
But it s a photo the Galena Park Police command staff claims it had never seen before. But after the I-Team broadcast it Monday night, Police Chief John Rader fired a dispatcher for texting it to others on the force.
It has no business in police work, it s about public trust, public integrity, it s about serving the community, said department spokesman Paul Lavalle.
Galena Park is a community with nearly a 90-percent minority population, including 80-percent Hispanic.
And other photos circulated at the department involve photo-shopping officers in sombreros behind Mexican flags or atop donkeys.
We (were) just horsing around, said Officer Juan Torres, who made the photos.
Torres said it was nothing more than a joke to get back at fellow officer for rooting against the Mexico World Cup Soccer Team.
I-Team: You don t see anything wrong with this whatsoever?
Officer Torres received verbal counseling for the incident. And as for his co-worker in the photos?
I thought they were funny, said Detective Markus Rivers.
Rivers also said no one else was offended.
Everyone wanted a copy, and they found it hilarious, Rivers said. Extremely hilarious.
But the I-Team didn t hear anyone laughing about secret recordings of former Police Chief Robert Pruett. In one of them, he criticizes Rick Bates, an older officer who just had open heart surgery.
It s only a matter of time, because that son of a bit** is a walking dead man, Pruett said on the tapes.
By far it s age discrimination, said the 55-year-old Bates.
Rick Bates has filed a federal job discrimination lawsuit against the City of Galena Park.
Robert Pruett was not disciplined for his comments, but rather promoted to City Administrator. The position carries more than a $6,000 pay raise.