HOUSTON—Internal Houston Police Department discipline documents shine an unflattering light on the elite homicide division. The reports on eight police employees, a combination of investigators, supervisors and officers, reveal a history of missed opportunities, neglected cases and even suspect escapes that lasted for years.
The most disturbing conclusions are for the man HPD Chief McClelland flat out called “a liar” in his news conference last week: Sgt. Ryan Chandler.
“Indefinitely suspended,” Chandler was found by Internal Affairs officers to have falsified HPD reports, even going so far as to claim he “referred” a homicide case to a grand jury, when in fact, he hadn’t and never did.
IAD also concluded that Chandler let cases languish by failing to enter new information in their files for 18 months in one case, two and a half years in another, and in yet another, waiting three years to update the offense report for the crime.
Worse, Internal Affairs also found that Chandler failed to even go to some of the scenes of homicides to which he’d been assigned. In at least one instance, Chandler defended himself, according to HPD, by saying that there was no crime scene to investigate.
But at this time, any criminal prosecution doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Ryan Chandler.
Due to a possible conflict of interest at the Harris County D.A.s office, the Montgomery County District Attorney has been reviewing any allegations regarding the investigator.
Today that office told KHOU 11 News that, at this time, there does not appear to be enough evidence to support criminal charges against Chandler. A spokesperson also added that they had only been given ‘a handful’ of Chandler’s cases for review.
But Chandler isn’t the only officer under fire by the Houston Police Department.
Investigators found that Senior Police Officer Kevin P. Carr in at least three homicide cases failed to update the respective files with new information in a “timely manner.” While investigating the murder of a child, Carr NEVER added any follow-up information to that case file, according to HPD. Carr was given a 10-day temporary suspension by Chief McClellan.
Senior Officer Richard Moreno received only a two-day suspension from the department.
Documents show that he was assigned to investigate a man’s murder in October 2005. Not long after that, he and a Sgt. E. Gonzalez showed a photo lineup to two different witnesses and got a positive identification of a suspect.
Yet the IAD report found that while Gonzalez called the suspect’s wife, after that Moreno made no significant effort to advance the investigation. It went cold and stayed that way until November 2013, six years later, when cold case officers reviewed the file and learned about the ID of the suspect early in the investigation. Yet it appears no case was ever presented to the District Attorney.
Sgt. Gonzalez is now better known as Houston City Councilman Ed Gonzales. No longer with HPD, he recently announced that he was voluntarily “suspending” himself for five days from his city job for his part in the botched case.
IAD also claims that Moreno’s lack of attention let a homicide suspect escape from custody at a local hospital. The suspect remained at large for nearly a year until he was arrested again in connection with another crime.
Finally, division supervisors did not go unscathed either. In memos to Lieutenants Rory Lakind and John McGalin, Police Chief McClelland found that both of them failed at times to check up on Chandler’s work even though they knew it to be problematic. Lakind was given a written reprimand and McGalin received a one-day suspension.