Officer may have jeopardized cases

April 8, 2009 5:20:03 PM PDT
A big mistake during a drunk driving investigation has led to a Houston police officer being taken off the job. Now, lawyers are left with a pile of cases that they say may be jeopardized.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Investigators are looking into how a veteran Houston police officer made such a mistake leading to a charge of intoxication manslaughter against the wrong person. It could bring many other cases into question.

A little over three months ago, Houston Police Officer Michael Wick was relieved of duty with pay pending the outcome of an internal affairs investigation. A local attorney we talked to believes these allegations could potentially put dozens of other similar cases in jeopardy.

According to these documents, both the Harris Country District Attorney's Office and HPD are investigating Officer Wick, an intoxlyzer operator, for falsifying offense reports and for allegedly giving false or mistaken evidence in an intoxication manslaughter case from January 2007.

"From what we've learned there was a person who was not actually guilty of that, but was convicted and it could be based on Officer Wick's testimony in court," said Tyler Flood, a local defense attorney.

Flood became aware of this after filing a motion for discovery for one of his clients. As it turns out, Wick was the officer who conducted the breath test. Flood is now calling into question the integrity of HPD's entire DWI breath-testing program.

"How do we know that there's not something going on with other cases, including some of the cases that we have?" said Flood.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office reportedly flagged 50 cases investigated by Wick. Police say while there's a push to get drunk drivers off the road, officers are in no way trading quality for quantity.

"The DWI Task Force is a very professional unit and I think those guys pride themselves with the quality of their work," said Gary Blankinship of the Houston Police Officer's Union.

Flood, who recently had three cases dismissed because of Wick's involvement, says every case the officer was involved in should be thrown out.

"We're just supposed to blindly assume that the testimony he would provide in our case is valid and is the truth? I don't think that's fair," said Flood.

The Harris County DA denied our request for an on-camera interview saying it would be inappropriate to comment on a matter that is still under investigation. Our attempts to reach Officer Wick's attorney were unsuccessful.

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