Charges dropped against teen suspected of firing pellet gun at victim's car in Montrose

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A trip to help a friend find his missing keys turned into an experience Lance Provost wishes never happened.

Provost was driving past the intersection of Grant and California in Montrose Sunday afternoon.

"I saw two people arguing," he said. "The next thing I heard was shots and glass shattering."

The glass was his back window. He recalled a man holding a pistol and pointing it.

"I hit the gas and found a police officer," he said. A few minutes later, 19-year-old Anthony Michael Laird was arrested. "The officer found the gun in his backpack."

The pistol was instead a high-powered bb gun, which resembled a 9 mm. A charge of criminal mischief was accepted by the district attorney's office.

On Monday, Provost learned the charge had been dismissed.

Before a case goes to criminal court, the defendant appears in probable cause court, where the charges are read. A magistrate sets a bond if that person agrees probable cause exists to hold the defendant.

In Laird's case, the magistrate noted that there was no finding of probable cause as to criminal mischief. The case against Laird was dismissed.

"Our justice system is broken. You can do anything you want and get away with it," Provost said, when he learned the case was dismissed.

Joe Gamaldi, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said he's noticed a trend of cases dismissed the same way in probable cause court.

"The officers have probable cause to arrest someone, the DA's Office examines the evidence, and if it's there, they have probable cause to charge. Those are two layers of a positive finding," Gamaldi said. "Then, it goes to probable cause court, and suddenly there's no cause, and there's no justification for it."

Unlike criminal and civil court judges, magistrates are not elected but appointed.

A statement from the Harris County District Attorney's Office stated that "we are currently working with the police to refile this case in the very near future."

On Thursday, Provost covered the rear window of his new Jeep with a plastic sheet, awaiting a replacement window that is on order.

He said his real concern is that the pellets that shattered the safety glass could have hit him or someone else.

"It could have taken out my eye or even killed someone," he said.

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