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Wife of HPD officer recants statement, says he shot her in 'execution-style attempted murder,' family says

Investigators said Galib Chowdhury shot his wife in the face at their apartment. Initially, she said it was an accident. Now, she says it was an execution attempt.

HOUSTON — The woman who was shot in her face by her husband earlier this week has changed her story about what she said happened that night, according to her family members.

Initially, the wife of Galib Chowdhury, a Houston Police Department officer of two years, told investigators that the shooting was an accident because she was afraid they wouldn't believe her.

Now, her sister said she told her that it was an execution attempt. The shooting caused extensive injuries to the eye and face of Sadaf Iqbal. 

On a GoFundMe page set up to help with medical bills, the victim's family describes her as "an extraordinary woman, a vibrant soul and loving individual."

The shooting

Chowdhury, 31, is accused of shooting his wife in her face in the early-morning hours Monday at their apartment on Clay Road.

Both of them initially told investigators that the shooting was accidental and he was actually shooting at an intruder. According to what came out during a court appearance, Chowdhury called 911 claiming that he fired a rifle at an intruder inside the apartment but accidentally shot his 30-year-old wife in her face. According to court records, an AR-style rifle was found in his apartment.

Chowdhury's wife refused to speak with officers at the hospital. She also told the medical staff that she was accidentally shot, according to officials.

HPD investigators said the evidence shows otherwise.

Authorities said the injuries suggest Chowdhury's wife might have been trying to cover her face when she was shot.

"Officers determined that the crime scene did not match the description of what allegedly happened by Mr. Chowdhury," the magistrate said.

According to a magistrate, Chowdhury sent "angry" texts to his wife before the shooting. Some of that exchange was read aloud in court. Court records show that Chowdhury and his wife were married last year.

She remains hospitalized and, according to family members.

Family speaks

"We loved him. I don't know if we still love him," Sabah said.

Sabah said her sister was laying on the floor when Chowdhury opened fire.

"She said she heard 'boom, boom' and she turned her face and tried to block it," Sabah said.

According to family members, earlier that night, Chowdhury went out drinking with multiple family members to celebrate a birthday. They said he became belligerent and attacked his wife when she got home about 30 minutes after him. They also said he apologized after the shooting.

"He said, 'I'm going to call 911 and we're going to tell them it's a robbery, OK,'" Sabah said.

The charges

Chowdhury was arrested immediately after the shooting. He was taken to jail and a judge set his bond at $125,000. He was charged with aggravated assault of a family member having caused serious bodily harm with a weapon.

He had no previous run-ins with the law.

On Tuesday, Chowdhury wiped his eyes as a magistrate read details of what investigators said he did to his wife.

"The complainant (wife) was shot in the right eyeball and had a cheekbone fracture and multiple fractures to their hand and fingers," the magistrate read during his court appearance.

According to court records, he made bail Tuesday night. A judge ordered Chowdhury to be on GPS monitoring as part of his bond conditions.

Chowdhury appeared in Harris County Criminal Court on Wednesday morning.

Investigators and the district attorney's office both believe the evidence shows that it was an intentional shooting.

"This is an ongoing investigation and whatever we determine and develop, we will proceed with the facts," assistant district attorney Kimberly Clark said.

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Who is Chowdhury?

Chowdhury was immediately relieved of duty with HPD pending the outcome of an internal investigation. State records show he's only served with HPD and he started in 2021.

Before that, he was a pharmacy technician until 2017, according to the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. According to a letter that was sent by the board, he gave up his license in order to avoid disciplinary action. The letter didn't go into the allegations.

On Tuesday, members of Chowdhury's family said they were devastated and are praying for everyone involved in the situation. Chowdhury's father said it's a very difficult time. He declined an on-camera interview and said everything is still sinking in. His family was trying to figure out what they needed to do to visit him in jail.

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Defense attorney speaks

Chowdhury's defense attorney, Nicole DeBorde, said the evidence will prove what really happened.

"We believe this was, indeed, a terrible accident," DeBorde said.

DeBorde is known for taking on other high-profile law enforcement cases. She also represents Gerald Goines, who is charged in the deadly Harding Street raid.

"Let’s find out in a court of law exactly what the facts are, because right now, what we have are just accusations," DeBorde said in an interview with KHOU 11 News on Tuesday evening.

She was beside him when Chowdhury appeared in Harris County Criminal Court on Wednesday morning.

Investigators and the district attorney's office both believe the evidence shows that it was an intentional shooting.

"This is an ongoing investigation and whatever we determine and develop, we will proceed with the facts," assistant district attorney Kimberly Clark said.

On Wednesday, DeBorde said she wouldn't comment on the allegations, but said her client would comply with his bond conditions, including the no-contact order regarding his wife and her family.

"We wish her a speedy recovery and full recovers. We're sending her love and prayers for the fullest recovery possible," DeBorde said.

Chowdhury's next court appearance is set for August.

Possible domestic violence

Leticia Manzano, with the Houston Area Women’s Center, can’t speak to Chowdhury's case specifically but said victims of domestic violence often struggle with reporting crimes.

"That's where I see the greatest instance of fear. Domestic violence is not about one isolated incident -- it’s a pattern of abuse -- so my hope for her is that she talks to someone who might help her see the pattern that led to this situation," Manzano said. "How would you make a police report, in their (victims') eyes, to your husband’s friends, you know? How can you trust that the system will work for them?"

Mental health resources

According to HPD officials, the department has a peer assistance program and also offers free mental health and other support to both officers and their families. That’s in addition to what the Houston Police Officer’s Union provides.

"We have specially trained retirees that do a phenomenal job with our officers that are dealing with stress or any kind of mental issue or breakdown or substance abuse, whatever it may be," HPOU President Douglas Griffith said.

Griffith said it appears that no one reached out in this case and since it happened while Chowdhury was off-duty, the union will not provide legal assistance.

"Obviously, something led to this situation and it’s truly sickening and sad," Griffith said.

Resources for victims of domestic or family violence

Domestic and family violence cases in the Houston area have increased at an alarming rate. Victims often suffer in silence because they feel scared, helpless or ashamed. 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, here are some discreet ways to reach out for help.

The Houston Area Women’s Center has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 713-528-2121 or 1-800-256-0551.

The HAWC safety planning website is a good resource for survivors. Click here for more information. Also, HAWC recently released a position paper to outline plans to address violence in the Houston area. Click here for more information on that.

The City of Houston has this resource page.

The Family Time Crisis Center can also be reached 24 hours a day at 281-446-2615.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 88788.

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