New details about sergeant's alleged DWI involving school bus

September 26, 2011 8:05:55 PM PDT
We're learning more about Houston police officers accused of covering for a fellow officer involved in a drunken driving crash.

Former Sergeant Ruben Trejo was fired for allegedly driving drunk and crashing into a school bus last spring. But now new details are emerging about an internal investigation into how Houston Police Department officers responded to that crash.

For the first time we are seeing what the police did and did not do on the day Sgt. Trejo ran into a school bus back in April.

After the crash we learned Trejo's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. He was fired after the crash and seven officers were disciplined.

According to disciplinary notices from Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, on the day of the accident Sergeant Paul Ogden was made aware that wine bottles were in Trejo's truck but he did not properly secure the evidence, and that Ogden even went as far as covering the bottles so the public could not see them.

McClelland also found Assistant Chief Daniel Perales failed to contact internal affairs to investigate the allegations that Trejo may have been under the influence of alcohol.

The chief also says that Lieutenant Andrew King was aware of wine bottles in Trejo's vehicle and that alcohol may have played a role in the crash but King failed to properly secure evidence.

And the chief says Captain Robert Manzo was made aware alcohol may have been a factor in the crash but failed to notify internal affairs promptly.

Both Sergeant Ogden and Assistant Chief Perales were given written reprimands for their roles in the investigation and Lieutenant King and Captain Manzo each received one day suspensions.

KTRK legal analyst Joel Androphy says he's shocked at the disciplinary actions that were handed down.

"And this was a serious mistake that they made, something that could have cost them their jobs, and more significantly, they could have been indicted for it," Androphy said.

Androphy points out that the reports show officers appear to have withheld information from others investigating the accident.

"It was a cover up, what they did was cover up evidence of a crime, and they have a responsibility to seek justice for everybody," Androphy said.

But not everyone feels the suspensions and one-day reprimands are light. Former police chief and current City Councilman CO Bradford says it's a complex formula.

"How long has officer been on? Has that officer been disciplined before? How many commendations and awards the officer has been received?" Bradford said.

Bradford says he has confidence in the police chief but admits the officers involved certainly made major mistakes.

"I wouldn't say it's a cover up, but it's a poor police investigation," he said.

The officers have 15 days to appeal the chief's decision.


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