And here we go again. One of our readers, Falutin Free, posted a youtube link showing an encounter in Houston. When I watched it, I was shocked at the level of stupidity on the part of the officer.
First, the bozo who took the video is openly carrying an AR15 rifle, which is legal in Texas, abet not very bright. Anyway, he’s doing it as part of a general open carry campaign and apparently doing so peaceably, as he had been at that corner for an hour. The police show up, and officer 4771 demands the guys ID, and is this ticked off when told that he doesn’t have it on him.
This brings us to our second point, the arrest at 1:43 for Failure to ID because officer 4771 is “tired of you idiots coming out here.” OK. So now we know that 4771 is completely ignorant of § 38.02, Tex. Pen. Code. Not having an ID on one’s person is not an element of the offense. For that matter, refusing to identify at all is not an offense, unless you have arrested him on another charge, which you have not.
Now we get to the good part, which shows 4771 is a complete idiot. If you are going to commit a felony, don’t do it on camera.
At 1:53, idiot 4771 says that we taking the phone off and “we’re going to erase it.” Guys, there’s your felony by the officer. Texas law states that Tampering With or Fabricating Physical Evidence is:
Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 37.09 (Vernon).
Well, nimrod did not manage to actually destroy the video, which would have been a 3d degree felony (2-10 years in prison), but he did attempt to do so, which is a state jail felony (180 days – 2 years). Second, even if he doesn’t go to jail for this, his usefulness as a police officer is gone, over, finished.
You see, the State must provide any defense attorney with anything that may be exculpatory evidence. An officer who is willing to destroy evidence is exculpatory, especially after he says he doesn’t use the dashcams if he doesn’t want to record something. This is called a Brady notice, from Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and is ground to reverse a conviction. In addition, Texas has a new law, known as the Michael Morton Act, Art. 39.14, Tex. Code of Crim. Proc., that requires the State to turn all such evidence over to the defense. See also Thomas v. State, 841 S.W.2d 399 (Tex. Crim. App. 1992).
So from now on, at each and every court appearance made by officer 4771, the defense attorney should be informed of this information. That means that the cross-examination would not be very pleasant, if it comes to that. It likely won’t because most District Attorney’s will not touch a case where one of the police witnesses is tarnished like that. So now officer 4771 is useless as a witness.
Brilliant. You don’t like people who open carry, so you do something stupid and trash your career.
The Harris County District Attorney can be reached at 713-755-5800 or email@example.com. The Houston Police Dept. Chief can be reached at 713-308-1600 or Internal Affairs at 713-308-8900.
According to two different sources: (Buzzpo) stated that the officer was on administrative leave during an IA investigation; (Fox 26 – Houston) stated that the officer tried to destroy evidence and that the department was withholding comment.