News

Harris County DA’s Office: Police Investigator Made Errors In 65 Cases

The impact on the outcome of those cases is not clear yet.

The Harris County District Attorney’s office notified to defense lawyers on Wednesday that a crime-scene investigator made errors in 65 cases dating back to October of 2015.

According to DA Kim Ogg’s office, the findings emerged from a recent audit of work done by a Houston Police Department officer who was assigned to conduct crime scene investigations under the supervision of the Houston Forensic Science Center.

Prosecutors are sending notifications about the findings and the name of the office to lawyers in each case involved.

Tyler Flood is the president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association.

He is in charge of notifying the defense attorney’s that may be involved in these cases.

“We need to know as fast as possible because there are cases happening in court every day, and we just want to make sure that none of those are resolved improperly,” says Flood. “No one is pleading guilty or going to trial on cases they may be affected by some of this evidence.” 

“Defense lawyers are going to have a chance to determine for themselves the relevance of these errors or omissions,“ Tom Berg, first assistant for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said. 

“Because most of these cases have not yet been fully adjudicated, we won’t speculate on the possible impact, if any,” he said.

The review of 88 cases handled by the officer determined that 65 had incomplete documentation, 32 had administrative errors, and, in eight cases, evidence had been misplaced.

David Mitcham is with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

He says mistakes like these can disrupt the justice system.

“The law requires the State of Texas has the burden of proof of proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt,” says Mitcham. “And so, therefore any deficiencies in the collection of evidence at a crime scene is extremely disturbing and important.”

Cases with errors include 26 homicides and eight officer involved shootings.

The crime-scene officer has since been reassigned to a patrol position within the Houston Police Department, according to the DA’s office, and a supervisor who conducted an initial technical review of the officer’s work has been temporarily removed from review duties.

 

Share