HPD: No evidence of brutality in Driver case

December 31, 2008 5:43:13 AM PST
Houston police says it has no evidence any of its officers beat up a local man last month. So is it case closed? Not if you ask the police union. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The man who claimed he was beaten, Houstonian Marvin Driver, is the father of NFL wide receiver Donald Driver. And now, the Houston Police Officers' Union is on the offensive, talking about the claims it says and has said all along are false.

The union has been pretty confident all along that the officers did nothing wrong. And now, we can tell you HPD internal affairs investigators cannot prove otherwise. But while the names of officers -- Matthew Marin, Gilbert Cruz and Basilio Guzman -- have been cleared, the case appears to be far from over.

Marvin Driver, Jr., did spend four days at Ben Taub Hospital, some of that time hooked up to a breathing machine. Houston police internal affairs investigators believe it was not their own officers who sent him there.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, HPD says their investigation, which included both eyewitness statements and hospital medical records, has concluded there is no evidence to substantiate allegations that Driver was beaten during an arrest on November 17.

In two news conferences last month, family members, a spokesman, and Driver himself contended three officers stopped behind a gas station to beat Driver before taking him to the southeast jail.

"The pain and suffering that I've gone through, that my family has gone through definitely, definitely, and I say again, definitely, cannot be excluded," said Marvin Driver during one of those press conferences.

"The doctors have clearly stated to us that Mr. Driver's injuries are from blunt force trauma," said spokesperson Quanell X.

They were strong words then that HPD today says aren't true, although they may come back to haunt them.

"People who slandered these officers will be held accountable," said HPOU President Gary Blankenship.

Blankinship says while the officers can return to their regular patrol assignments from the desk duty they've been on for weeks, the damage is already done.

"The fact that they were relieved of duty caused them not to work overtime, not to be able to work extra jobs where they could provide for their families during the holiday season," said Blankenship.

Blankinship says HPOU's board of directors voted unanimously to move forward despite the officers being cleared. The case is not over.

"Anyone who made statements, that made false statements, dragged their names through the mud, we're going after them," he added.

And Blankinship says the union's attorneys are looking at every option, whether criminal or civil and they plan on scrutinizing what everyone and anyone has said about the officers. We made several attempts to contact Marvin Driver, as well as the family spokesman. No one returned our calls.

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