HPD chief meets with community activists about alleged police brutality

January 31, 2012 7:08:57 PM PST
There are new developments in an alleged case of police brutality. A local couple claims they were beaten after a traffic stop last week and Houston's police chief met with community activists Tuesday regarding the incident and other complaints from the city's north side.

Those activists are calling that meeting with the police chief productive. Now they say they just want to see some solutions to the community's concerns put in action.

Community activists Deric Muhammad, Shelby Stewart and attorney Robert Collier gathered outside HPD headquarters after about an hour long meeting with HPD Chief Charles McClelland.

"This meeting was prompted, if you will, by several complaints that we've received from residents in northeast Houston, particularly about the white officers on the night shift," said Muhammad.

That meeting also came after southeast side resident Annika Lewis claimed several officers attacked her and damaged her phone while she was recording police kicking and beating her husband after a traffic stop last Friday morning.

"Another one grabbed me by my hair and pushed me down," Lewis said.

Sebastian Prevot, who was charged with evading arrest, says he suffered a black eye, split ear and other injuries while he was handcuffed.

The community activists say the police chief listened to a list of suggestions during the meeting, and they say he agreed to send a memo to patrol officers addressing the public's right to film officers actions.

They say the chief's agreed to make announced and unannounced visits to officers on night patrol.

"We believe if the police chief spent less time behind his desk and more time on the ground, that he could disturb the culture of corruption that's on the ground," said Muhammad.

On Tuesday night, HPD Chief Charles McClelland issued the following statement:

"The Houston Police Department takes all allegations regarding police misconduct seriously. We encourage anyone who has witnessed or been the subject of an incident involving inappropriate police behavior to bring that matter promptly to our attention and file a formal Internal Affairs Division (IAD) complaint with our department. Complaints may also be filed with the NAACP, LULAC, the Office of Inspector General Ombudsman, and the Urban League.

Complaints against officers, whether initiated by the public or other police officers, will be investigated in a thorough and objective manner with an investigation into all the facts. As a reminder, the Independent Police Oversight Board (IPOB) is an independent body appointed by the mayor and approved by city council to review police misconduct and to review and make recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers.

Officers will be reminded that the public may photograph, film, or record them while they are doing their job. I expect the men and women of HPD to respect the rights of the public to photograph, film or record police actions. Likewise, the public should be mindful of the job that officers are tasked with performing and follow lawful directions. The Texas Penal Code, Section 38.15, states that a person criminally interferes with a peace officer if a person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with the peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law.

My administration will continue to be open and transparent and I will maintain an open door policy with community leaders to discuss ways to enhance police community relations."