Did a deputy go too far?

July 3, 2008 5:26:10 PM PDT
Crime scene tape, criminal histories run on employee and a business shut down all over a report of stolen cash.How much was stolen? We understand it was somewhere in the range of $15 and $20.

Was the investigation justified, or was it because the alleged victim is the wife of a lieutenant in the Harris County Sheriff's Office?

Wednesday, deputies and Humble police responded to the call at a car wash on FM 1960. Now the sheriff's department is conducting its own investigation into the actions of one of its lieutenants.

A spokesman for the car wash says a female customer made an allegation of theft. Next he claims there was crime scene tape around him, his business was shut down and a lieutenant from the sheriff's department was ordering everyone around.

The spokeswoman for the car wash says the woman claimed $16 was stolen from the car. The manager says he checked pockets, questioned employees, called police and says the woman called her husband, a lieutenant at the Harris County Sheriff's Department. Humble Police say the lieutenant at the sheriff's department identified as Lt. Louis Guthrie, showed up and put up crime tape. He told Humble officers he would take it from there. Those officers say they saw more HCSO cruisers pulling into the car wash.

"The assistant chief contacted our chief deputy directly and told him about the incident, chief deputy looked into it and as soon as he did he called for an investigation," said Captain John Martin of the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

The car wash spokesman claims the lieutenant shut down the business for an hour and demanded IDs of employees. The manager claims one employee was forced to the ground.

Our legal analyst says if true, the lieutenant may have abused his position.

"I think the sheriff's department would be smart to investigate this case, reprimand anyone who abused their authority and compensate this gentleman for the loss of business," said KTRK Legal Analyst Joel Androphy.

That will all be a part of the internal affairs investigation.

"If you're lacking a known suspect ,you don t have sufficient evidence to believe someone specific is involved, I think you initiate a report and refer them to someone for an investigation," Captain Martin said.

Eyewitness News learned from public records at the sheriff's department there have been past letters of reprimand against Guthrie.

- In November of 1995 his "weapon was loaded with unapproved ammunition." and continually "questioned an inmate regarding his religious beliefs."
- June of 1998 during an extra job he "used inappropriate language" and "subjected a citizen to unwarranted physical abuse."
- October of 1999 his "foot slipped off the brake" and his patrol unit struck a civilian vehicle.
- February 2002 he "engaged in horseplay at the Harris County Sheriff's Academy."
- September 2006 he failed to exercise caution in operation of his patrol unit.

Now in 2008 there is an allegation of Guthrie stepping over the line.

"This town needs deputies for protection," Androphy told us. "They don t need three or four deputies showing up over $16. "

The lieutenant has been removed from the patrol division and reassigned pending the outcome of the internal affairs investigation. We made several calls to him today, asking for his response.

Now, as for the management at the car wash, they say they're cooperating with the sheriff s department. The business estimated in the hour it was shut down, they lost the business of 50 drivers.

      Headlines at a glance | News in your community | RSS feeds
           Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes


Load Comments