Review underway after HPD officers leave crowded standoff without arresting suspect

While one former HPD detective was in shock, an HPD spokesperson said there was not an immediate threat.

Jessica Willey Image
Thursday, September 7, 2023
HPD investigating officers who let chase suspect go amid a mob
Police believe a confrontation with a chase suspect who recruited a mob to interfere with officers sends a wrong message.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- ABC13 has learned an HPD internal review is underway into how a police situation was handled early Monday morning when officers left an arrest scene due to an unruly crowd.

According to Houston police, a traffic stop turned into a chase and officers had to box in the suspect with their cars.

It happened in the 3400 block of Cavalcade near Hwy 59 around 1:30 a.m.

The man refused to comply, police said.

Meantime, the crowd, believed to be family and friends, kept growing. Officers tried to negotiate. The crowd became unruly, and in a bizarre move, the suspect threw out a wad of cash. HPD said all of it led up to a police decision to leave the scene.

"It's shocking. It's absolutely shocking," said retired HPD detective Mark Stephens. "I've been a police officer since I was 19. I don't recognize what just happened."

Stephens worked for HPD for decades. He said he has never seen anything like it. Police sources tell ABC13 a review is underway.

"Whether they realize it or not, they have set a dangerous precedent. The potential for copy cats is going to be through the roof because there's an element who understands one thing, getting away, and if they realize there's a new way to get away, and we can do this to the police, and they're going to run away, I don't want to know where that leads," Stephens said.

An HPD spokesman said every situation is different. Supervisors were consulted. There was not an immediate threat, and it was a non-violent offense, he said.

The officers knew the suspect's name and so they used their discretion to leave and to file a warrant for his arrest rather than making it right then.

Stephens said the officers should have stood their ground.

"If they can't cut it, they need to be removed. It's just that dangerous of a situation," he added.

In response, Houston Police Officers Union President Douglas Griffith said, "Unfortunately, with the current state of policing, officers are one call away from an indictment or being the next viral video. While hindsight is 20/20, some officers will wait when they could be taking immediate decisive action. An investigation was conducted and I'm confident that this suspect will eventually end up where he belongs - behind bars!"

HPD said an arrest warrant for felony evading has been issued for the driver Marcus Washington.

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