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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The Fifth Amendment, James Duane

This was done a number of years ago, not long after the Senator Larry Craig toe tapping incident.  I think today Jerry Eversole and Roger Clemens come to mind when you think of those who should follow the advice of Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson.  James Duane is a law school professor who put this together for a class he teaches.  His focus was on the police, the advice is the same for a grand jury.  You be the judge of the importance of not testifying before a politically motivated grand jury.

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