Criminal Justice

Man allegedly beaten by former HPD officer in 2019 pushing for federal charges after DA’s office failed to file case on time

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dropped charges against the former officer last month after the DA’s office filed the case two days after the court deadline.

Screenshot of body-camera video purportedly showing the arrest of Aundre Howard on July 7, 2019.

A man who was allegedly beaten by a former Houston police officer in 2019 is pushing for federal intervention after the Harris County District Attorney's Office failed to file criminal charges on time, resulting in the case being dismissed.

In 2021, former Houston Police Department officer Lucas Vieira was indefinitely suspended and indicted by a grand jury on a charge of aggravated assault by a public servant after allegedly beating Aundre Howard, 34, during a traffic stop on the night of July 7, 2019. However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dropped the charge against Vieira late last month because the DA’s office filed the charge on July 9, 2021 — two days after the two-year statute of limitations.

Now, Houston attorney Randall Kallinen says they’re asking the U.S. Department of Justice to review the case since the agency can file federal charges within five years after an alleged offense.

“I believe that the United States Attorney Alamdar Hamdani could certainly take this particular case and bring it to a federal grand jury for an indictment,” Kallinen said.

A spokesperson for the DA’s office said that they disagreed with the decision to drop the case, but ultimately, they respected the ruling. Kallinen said he and Howard were disappointed that the DA’s office failed to file the case in a timely manner.

Body camera footage from the 2019 incident shows Vieira and HPD officer Thomas Serrano chase after Howard, a Black man who allegedly ran from the two officers after being handcuffed.

During a 23-second segment of footage publicly released by Kallinen in November 2020, Vieira can be heard commanding Serrano to shoot Howard twice, and yelling "BOP BOP BOP BOP" as they ran. After catching up with Howard, Vieira can be seen beating Howard in the back of the head with what appears to be a set of handcuffs, before pulling Howard to the ground.

In the years that followed the incident, Howard filed a federal lawsuit against the two officers, the city of Houston and former Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. According to Kallinen, the lawsuit has since been settled.

Additionally, the dismissal opens the door for Vieira to attempt to get his old job back through the city’s arbitration process, “even though there’s video clearly showing the officer telling another officer to shoot Aundre Howard, who was running away in handcuffs,” Kallinen said.