HOUSTON — An Independent Police Oversight Advisory Board will investigate the deadly Harding Street raid.
Sitting on the board is a coveted role. The chairman of the board, Marvin Hamilton, said community members from all across the city apply for the volunteer positions.
Because of the number of cases the board reviews weekly, it breaks up into different panels to look at specific cases. With this case under so much scrutiny, Hamilton hopes two of its panels will have time to review all of the evidence. Hamilton said he wants to make sure everything is carefully vetted before making any recommendations.
Hamilton has been chairman of the board for three years. He say he’s aware of the information that’s been publicized about the raid but must remain neutral until all the facts are known.
“I won’t know anything until the investigation is complete, and then I read all the documents,” he said.
Like the FBI, HPD and investigators with the District Attorney's Office, the board sees all of the evidence. It then makes a recommendation on what discipline to dole out to the officers being investigated.
Chief Art Acevedo, however, will have the final say. The chairman said 90 percent of the time, recommendations are followed.
“From the time we make a recommendation, from the time he makes a final decision, sometimes new information comes in that he didn’t know and we didn’t know," Hamilton said.
The board is comprised of a racially diverse 21-member committee. It reviews all internal affairs investigations involving excessive force.
Hamilton said the last case he reviewed in the national spotlight like the Harding Street raid was nearly a decade ago. high-profile investigation involved 15 year-old burglary suspect Chad Holley. Surveillance video showed Holley running along a fence away from Houston Police officers, when a police car cut him off. As Holley is down, you can see cops beat and kick him.
Some of the officers in the case were charged. Some were fired, and some got their jobs back.
The board promises to review the Harding Street raid objectively.
“I think it’s very unfair to paint every cop based on what they think happened here, ‘cause there are a lot of hard-working officers," Hamilton said.
The attorney for Officer Gerald Goines, Nicole DeBorde, said the public’s view might already be tainted because of information that has already been released. The chief has said Goines might have lied to get the warrant that led to the raid.
“It’s highly unusual for a law enforcement agency, especially the chief law enforcement officer, to start discussing possible facts, possible pieces of evidence that have been uncovered in the case, prior to the conclusion of the investigation,” DeBorde said.
Hamilton, a retired postmaster, is confident HPD will be thorough.
“Based on all of the publicity surrounding the case, I know they will. I have no question as to whether they will or not, they can’t afford not to,” he said.
The chief and Mayor Sylvester Turner said they’re not releasing any more details about the case as to not jeopardize the outcome of the investigation.
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