Houston DA Retaliates Against Its Own For The Temerity To Complain Over Police Abuse
June 26, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Down in Harris County, Texas (also known as Houston, or the “place where barbecue goes to die”), you can usually exercise your constitutional rights without much of a problem, so long as you don’t work for the District Attorney’s Office. Denise Garcia was recently stopped by the Houston Police for a traffic infraction while taking her son to a doctor’s appointment. It didn’t go well.
With no apparent cause, the officers asked Garcia for consent to search her car. Aware of the fact that she had an option, she refused. So the police searched the car anyway. For good measure, and likely remind her that they didn’t take kindly to people who refused consent to search, they also search her bra and pants. No, not in private. Not inside the car. Right there on the side of the road. Right in front of her children. After all, one never knows what critical evidence of a traffic infraction might be found in a woman’s brassiere. Especially a women by the name of Garcia.
So Garcia sought redress of her grievances by filing a complaint with the police department—and was subsequently fired by the DA’s Office.
“The decision to terminate Ms. Garcia was made after a careful investigation in which she was given an opportunity to be heard. Based on the results of this investigation, we determined that Ms. Garcia had violated office policy,” Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement.
What office policy? No one has been able say, though there is no speculation that it had to do with the nature of her undergarments.
Not only did Garcia suffer the degradation of a consentless, warrantless, foundationless search, both of her car and her body, but then the very agency for which she worked, the agency charged with investigating the police for misconduct, took the lead in retaliating against her for having the audacity to complain about an egregious violation of her rights.
The DA’s Office claimed that Garcia had been fired for misconduct. The Texas Workforce Commission rejected their position, which just coincidentally followed immediately upon her complaint. Her attorney says that she was fired for “exerting [sic] her constitutional right to complain about her traffic stop…”. And there appears to be overwhelming evidence that this is so, though it would have been nice to have a video of the stop.
Which gives rise to the next issue. Garcia alleges that officers on the scene also deleted cell phone video of the stop. If true, this intentional destruction of evidence would constitute a felony committed by the officers. Sadly, it also would not be the first time that Houston police have deleted or attempted to delete video of their conduct to conceal their impropriety.
In December of last year, during an “open carry” demonstration, a Houston police officer tried to delete cell phone video of a man from whom he demanded ID. The department said they would investigate, but nothing else has been released, nor, under Texas civil service laws, will it be. Although trying to delete video is a felony, the DA’s Office has not apparently taken any action to prosecute the officer.
Look guys, this is killing us. Police and prosecutors are supposed to be on the side of upholding the law. If one of our own violates a criminal law, they need to be identified and prosecuted, but this is not what happens. Prosecutors routinely ignore crimes that are committed by police officers. This isn’t limited to Houston and Harris County, either.
In Los Angeles, the prosecutor union recently put out a press release criticizing a proposed law that would require an outside prosecutor to investigate police shootings. Although they claim that the local prosecutor can properly investigate and charge officers involved with misconduct, the spokesman, Marc Debbaudt, then slams the Baltimore prosecutors for charging six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray.
Okay, let’s get this straight. We can trust the local prosecutor to handle police crimes, so long as we really don’t expect the prosecutors to actually do anything? And you wonder why the public is lacks a bit of confidence in the handling of police in the rash of killings lately? Really? Are you that blind? This is the stuff that causes protests and, for that matter, riots. Or worse.
On top of it all, you fire a six-year employee for asserting her rights, standing up for the law and legitimately complaining about police mistreatment. Good job, guys. Are you waiting for your medal?