Harris County DA, HPD Homicide scandal widens

Chronicle Reporter James Pinkerton continues to kill it. His latest Easter Sunday article includes information from the recently obtained disciplinary records for the officers fired and disciplined in the HPD homicide unit scandal. The revelations were countless and shocking. Let me try and summarize the facts.

  • The disciplinary records reveal that the investigation involving (former) HPD Homicide Detective Ryan Chandler began because members of the District Attorney’s office, presumably prosecutors, complained that Chandler refused to testify about his cases at trial. Stunning.
  • HPD Homicide and members of the District Attorney’s office knew about Chandler’s problems and, possibly, the missing files, when Pat Lykos was the Harris County District Attorney.
  • HPD Chief Charles McClelland called Chandler a “liar” with “a severe lack of sound judgment.” Chandler failed to adequately investigate 21 cases, including 15 deaths, misplaced files and evidence, and falsified police reports.
  • The disciplinary records state that Chandler made false entries into offense reports.
  • In a case where a convenience store clerk was murdered, HPD developed the suspect in 2007 and failed to investigate the case until May 2010.
  • After a 2005 murder, two eyewitnesses quickly identified a suspect. Even though a suspect was identified, Council Member Ed Gonzalez’s only effort to find the suspect was to contact the suspect’s wife via the telephone. Years later, the suspect was deported to Honduras without prosecution on the homicide case and the victim’s family is left without justice.
  • The Harris County District Attorney’s office forwarded the case to Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon, a former attorney for the Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU). Chandler is now represented by an attorney for the HPOU.
  • Ligon concluded that no criminal wrongdoing occurred without an impartial grand jury investigation.

If the HPD Homicide Division was having problems, shouldn’t the sitting Harris County District Attorney be told immediately about these issues? We know that, at a minimum, the problems with Chandler began to come to light when Pat Lykos was the District Attorney. Shouldn’t someone have told the sitting district attorney about a homicide detective’s refusal to testify?

Following the publication of Pinkerton’s story, I spoke with Lykos and Jim Leitner, her First Assistant. Neither Lykos nor Leitner knew anything about an investigation into Chandler or any other homicide detective. This is stunning because the article by Pinkerton states that, in 2012, members of the District Attorney’s office complained about Chandler to the Houston Police Department.

The revelation of Chandler’s refusal to testify presents more questions than answers.

  • Who first discovered Ryan Chandler’s refusal to testify?
  • Did they tell anyone?
  • Did they take any action?
  • Who knew about Ryan Chandler’s refusal to testify?
  • When did they know?
  • When did HPD Homicide learn about Ryan Chandler’s refusal to testify?
  • Did they tell anyone?
  • Did they take any action?
  • Were individuals convicted without Chandler’s testimony? If so, who are these defendants?
  • Has anyone identified these cases to the defense bar?
  • Did the Anderson administration know about Chandler’s refusal to testify in homicide cases when they accepted his $550 campaign donation?
  • Was Allen Blakemore, the Anderson (and Ligon) administration’s campaign consultant, aware of the HPD issues?

What about the missing files?

  • When did HPD learn that homicide files were missing from the division?
  • Did they tell anyone?
  • Did they take any action?
  • When did the Harris County District Attorney’s office learn that homicide files were missing from the division?
  • Who from the Harris County District Attorney’s office knew that homicide files were missing from the division?
  • When did they know it?
  • Did they tell anyone?
  • Did they take any action?
  • Has anyone identified these cases to the defense bar?

Clearly, Chandler was very excited about the Anderson administration. Not only did he

Ryan Chandler and bride to be

Ryan Chandler and bride to be

donate $550 to the campaign, he attended the victory party at a midtown restaurant. Here he is, wearing an Anderson sticker, with his girlfriend.

Anderson Campaign Finance Report 12.21.11 Donation

Anderson Campaign Finance Report 4.26.12 Donation

How could prosecutors at the Harris County District Attorney’s office know about Chandler’s refusal to testify without telling Lykos or Leitner? Were they friends with Chandler’s girlfriend, a Chief felony prosecutor and leader of the conviction integrity unit? Were they waiting for the Anderson administration to sweep this under the rug? Did they ever plan to tell the defense bar about these problems? Will there ever be any Brady disclosures?

There needs to be an impartial investigation by the Washington based Department of Justice Public Integrity Unit or the Texas Rangers. One of the Democratic Judges needs to appoint a Special Prosecutor. This is public corruption at its worse involving law enforcement and members of the Harris County District Attorney’s office.

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Harris County Grand Jury Reform

It has been widely reported that Harris County DA’s office decided to send the HPD homicide investigation to Montgomery County DA Brett Ligon. While this is not a crime in and of itself, Houstonians deserve a complete and independent investigation by a source free from connections to HPD. I am sure that Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson would argue that she would have been criticized if Harris County had retained the investigation or farmed it out; but, was it really necessary to send the investigation to the district attorney with direct connections to the Houston Police Officers’ Union? This is a fundamental question of judgment.

The Chronicle has it right when they call for an independent investigation of the Police. The officers themselves should want their names cleared by an independent investigation. Think about the crime lab investigation performed by Michael Bromwich, an independent entity.

The investigation cannot remain with the Harris County District Attorney’s office because Ray Hunt Anderson Photothe current appointed district attorney, Devon Anderson, has a relationship with the Houston Police Officer’s Union. This group was instrumental in generating an opportunity for Mike Anderson to be elected. Additionally, we know that Devon has represented at least one member of the Houston Police Department. After Mike took office, the remaining Chad Holley cases were delegated to special prosecutors because Devon represented one of the police officer defendants.

Pollard-and-Anderson-whisper-secrets-1-500x300

Mike Anderson whispering to his 4 time appointed grand jury foreman Patricia Pollard, and the grand jury foreman of the 185th grand jury.

Then, Allen Blakemore’s connection to everything evil cannot be overlooked. He served as Mike’s political consultant. He is currently Devon’s consultant. He is Brett Ligon’s consultant. He has a relationship with the police union. It is public record now that Allen Blakemore knows how to use a grand jury for a political purpose: think 185th. That evildoing involved Judge Mike Anderson’s longtime grand juror, Patricia Pollard, along with Blakemore, Judge Susan Brown, and many others. A picture is worth a thousand words.

While this group is willing to use a grand jury (along with special prosecutors, the District Attorney’s office, and judges) for a political purpose, the real issue is the grand jury system. The major metropolitan areas in Texas have done away with the grand jury commissioner system. Not only is it unnecessary, it is unjust. The commissioner system allows judges to pick their friends as commissioners and grand jurors. It permits people like Pollard to sit on multiple grand juries for the same judge. We know that she served as Mike Anderson’s grand jury foreman for four grand jury terms.

There is a just alternative: selecting grand jurors from the jury pool. A few Harris County District Court judges have pulled their grand jurors from the jury pool; so, selection from the jury pool can certainly be done in Harris County. Of course, this system would not allow judges like Susan Brown to put together a political grand jury. It would also stop shenanigans like Judge Marc Brown, Susan’s husband, appearing before his wife’s grand jury without a prosecutor. And, a grand jury from the jury pool would easily sniff out “special” prosecutors like Jim Mount and Stephen St. Martin.Screenshot 2014-04-13 10.19.07

In 2004, the Houston Chronicle pointed out the ethical dilemma of the grand jury commissioner system. The system was designed for actors with integrity. Without people of integrity, the system fails.

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Devon Anderson, and the Texas Rangers Investigation

 Chandler HPD Photo

The Harris County District Attorney’s office has a dilemma, compounded by a conflict, in search of a guy name Brady. A month or so ago, there were rumblings around town that a Houston Police Department homicide detective was under investigation. On Friday, Houston Police Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. called this (former) police officer a liar and announced that the officer was fired. Of course, bad news always hits on a Friday.

Back on March 5, Jeremy Rogalski from Channel 11 reported that the homicide detective accused of sloppy work, Ryan Chandler, had received identical performance reviews. All four of Chandler’s performance reviews from 2011 and 2012 were “virtually identical.” They even included the same misspelling: “investigattions.”

On Friday, James Pinkerton reported in the Houston Chronicle that at least 24 homicide cases in the city of Houston were not investigated. Houston City Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former HPD homicide detective, was recently in possession of pending homicide files. He told Pinkerton that he took the files with him when he left HPD for Houston City Council in 2009. Now we know that seven other officers from the homicide division have been disciplined for playing a role in the failure to investigate murder cases in Houston, Texas.

There is no question that, even at the outset, this was obviously a huge scandal. The actions of local law enforcement and a shared political consultant, Allen Blakemore, have turned the scandal into actions that require investigations by the Texas Rangers and a special prosecutor. It is not surprising to most that Allen Blakemore is the center of evil when it comes to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

Unsolved homicide cases leave unidentified murderers on our streets and families without answers. So, who is investigating the actions (or inactions) of the Houston Police Department? Typically, the Harris County District Attorney’s office would investigate HPD’s behavior. Instead, the investigation was forwarded to the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office at the request of the Harris County DA. This may have been done because Chandler is engaged to a Chief Prosecutor in charge of conviction review at the Harris County District Attorney’s office.Chandler Hampton Photo

The new Harris County District Attorney, Devon Anderson, forwarded the investigation to Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon. Brett Ligon, an Allen Blakemore client, is also a former union attorney for the Houston Police Officers’ Union. So, now we know that Brett shares a political consultant with Devon Anderson. And they share their political consultant with the Houston Police Officers’ Union. And, before Brett was the Montgomery County District Attorney, he represented HPD officers on a full-time basis for almost ten years. Let me be clear, Brett Ligon represented HPD officers who were disciplined by the department or in trouble with the law. And, of course, Mike Anderson was endorsed by the HPOU. I did contact Jeff McShan, the spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s office on Friday and asked for an opportunity to speak with Devon about these issues. I have yet to hear back.

Mike Anderson campaigned on the restoration of integrity to the Harris County District Attorney’s office. After Devon was appointed by Governor Perry, her mouthpiece at the time, Chip Lewis, said that she would “continue the good work” done by Mike. So, wouldn’t you think that Devon would want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety? Why would she forward an investigation of Houston Police Department officers to a former HPOU lawyer? Did Brett Ligon ever represent any of the officers currently under investigation?

Do these disciplined officers continue to work in the homicide division? Do they continue to testify? Has the defense bar been notified about these problems and conflicts? Are these uninvestigated murder cases being reviewed and properly investigated? Are murderers roaming our streets because of law enforcement’s incompetence? Will these murder victims ever be acknowledged? If any of these cases ever go to trial, how will this situation be handled? Were officers paid to not investigate cases? Is that a crime?

The people of Houston deserve a truly independent investigation by the Texas Rangers and a neutral special prosecutor. Allen Blakemore cannot continue to use the courthouse and the District Attorney’s office as his playground. Blakemore controlled the District Attorney’s office through the Chuck Rosenthal administration and we saw the end of that story. It’s always the cover up that gets you.

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Amanda, thank you for your deposit of $85,000!

Amanda,

Sorry I have been remiss in posting about your and Chip’s misdeeds. I did want to thank you for placing your $85,000 into the Lynn Hughes’ court registry for Rachel. Now please understand we are adding the additional legal fees incurred by you for your completely bogus and laughable response to our response. Not that you ever had a discernible case for anything but a frivolous suit but your latest filing takes the cake! We all laughed and are betting you wrote it because no competent lawyer would send that to the 5th circuit.

Now we need all your money so keep up the good work. Watch what the 5th circuit does with our request for additional fees for your continued stupidity. Consider this a teachable moment for your law career and hey who knew you could be the law of the land and the case on point for the Citizen’s Participation Act. Elected officials everywhere thank you, well except Devon Anderson who this will turn out worse for her then you. I thank you and Chip for the opportunity, and yes I am having fun putting you in the poor house!

You need to go back and read these posts, pretty uncanny how I predicted your demise. You are a fool and soon be parted from all your money!

Thanks for playing!

Don Hooper

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