August 24, 2002
K-Mart Kiddie Roundup: Still getting stranger

In the continuing saga of the story that just keeps getting stranger, we now learn that freshman City Council member Michael "Boy Wonder" Berry knew about the raid and had actually attended the August 17 raid at James Coney Island. He admits he was surprised by the police tactics but didn't say anything about them.

Asked if he should have encouraged Aguirre or other police officials to be less aggressive in the second raid, Berry said, "Sure, it's easy to say `Yes,' and that's the proper thing to do.

"But looking at what I knew and when I knew it, I was trying to understand police techniques," Berry said Friday. "I didn't know that's not what is done every time. I just didn't know that.

"Most of what the police do is outside the view of the public, and I was trying to get an idea on that because if I'm ever put in a position as mayor to make the decision on whether to fire the guy who called the command, I would like to have some level of experience to draw on."

I'm not too worried about that last part, Boy Wonder, and neither should you be.

The meat in this story is the revelation that Captain Aguirre sent a memo to Police Chief C. O. Bradford about his proposal to crack down on drag racing by arresting people instead of just issuing citations which has "little or no impact" on the problem. The memo was written in May. The Chron story couldn't confirm whether or not Bradford had actually seen the memo, which means Bradford has an Enron-CEO type of choice: Do I admit I know what my underlings are doing and thus implicate myself, or do I deny all knowledge and thus demonstrate that I'm completely useless as the man in charge? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the comments on this entry contain the following account from the father of a 19-year-old who was among the arrested:

My 19 year old son was among those arrested. We were in from out of town to sign the papers for my father to have hospice care, and it really tore my son up. He went out to get out of the house and try to decompress and was arrested for the heinous crime of going to the Sonic drivein to get a limeaid. (For trespassing in the Kmart lot while eating at Sonic.) They arrested people in their cars in the drivethru, impounding the cars.

I lived in Houston for years, I've seen HPD get away with throwing handcuffed suspects in the bayou and any number of shootings, but this is too much even for HPD to get by with. I expect that the judges and prosecutors are gonna be running for cover and trying to avoid the lawsuit splatter that's coming. Welcome to Houston, y'all, heh.

I'm hard pressed to imagine any definition of trespassing that includes cars in a drive-through. This just really stinks.

And the ACLU has now officially threatened lawsuits unless all charges are dropped. They may throw in reckless prosecution if the DA's office drags its feet. Yeesh.

UPDATE: As always, Kevin is on top of this as well, with more info about Aguirre's memo to Chief Bradford.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 24, 2002 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup