HPD addresses deadly police chase

May 9, 2008 5:03:29 PM PDT
Houston police are speaking out, answering tough questions about the deadly police chase where a man died on the West Loop, handcuffed after being shot. THE LAWSUIT: Read the entire lawsuit filed by Roland Carnaby's wife

For the first time, Houston police admit they could have better handled the chase that ended in the death of a man who claimed to be a CIA agent.

Houston police tell us they called Friday's news conference to clear up any confusion about what's supposed to happen during an officer-involved shooting investigation. Through the course of that news conference, there was an admission that the situation could have been handled differently.

While Houston police admit they could have better handled the recent chase that ended in the shooting death of Roland Carnaby, members of HPD Chief Harold Hurtt's command staff stopped short of saying the responding officers made any mistakes.

"One of the reasons why we do this job is that they want to help," said Michael Dirden with the Houston Police Department. "It's not like we're going to shoot somebody and let them lay there and die."

HPD officers are trained how to administer first aid, yet Carnaby laid face down on the ground in handcuffs for twelve minutes before receiving medical attention from an ambulance.

"You have to understand, when a police officer is involved in a discharged firearm situation, the officers are traumatic also, so those officers at the scene may not have been in a position emotionally to address that issue," said Dirden.

HPD policy states officers have a responsibility to give medical attention, but does not clearly define what that means. As for the smashing of the passenger side window, a tactic used after Carnaby finally pulled over, police say officers do have some leeway. Right now, investigators can't say for sure whether their actions were right or wrong.

"We're not going to know exactly what exactly those officers were thinking and why they took the actions they did until we complete the homicide investigation and we start the internal affairs investigation and start getting an opportunity to explain to us in their statement to homicide and their administrative statement to internal affairs, 'What was your understanding? What were you perceiving? What were you seeing?' And then at that point, we can then make a call on if that was a good decision or not," said Brian Lumpkin with the Houston Police Department.

The two officers who shot Carnaby are back on the streets. Police tell us they hope to get more answers once the homicide investigation is complete and they can start the internal affairs investigation. Meantime, HPD says it will continue to thoroughly review its policies and procedures.

Carnaby's wife is suing the Houston Police Department over the death of her husband. The federal lawsuit, in part, states the police officers shot him and then failed to provide medical treatment, resulting in his death. The suit also claims police used excessive force by breaking Carnaby's car window and firing their weapons.

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