June 07, 2003
Aguirre trial update

The prosecution is still presenting its case against former HPD Captain Mark Aguirre. On Thursday, Sgt. (formerly Lt.) Frank Jackson testified that Aguirre made some changes to the original plan after it had been submitted for approval:

Jackson said Aguirre made key changes in plans for the Aug. 18 raid after superiors had approved them. The main change, he said, was to make mass arrests for attempted trespassing -- a charge that does not require approval by the district attorney's office.

The initial plan, he said, was to target lawbreakers for a variety of traffic and conduct offenses and release the crowd of spectators who gathered in the 8400 block of Westheimer to watch the racing and admire the cars.

But as the backlash mounted, Jackson said, Aguirre asked him whether superiors had approved a finalized plan or just a draft that he could change at his discretion.

"I said it was sent up as a draft but it came back with (Assistant Chief C.A.) McClelland's approval," Jackson testified.

On hearing that news, he said, Aguirre remarked: "Well, I'm f----- then."

Yesterday, IAD Captain Vicki King testified that in doing so, Aguirre violated department policies:

Assistant Chief C.A. McClelland approved the plan, but "its entire focus shifted" under Aguirre, King said.

"When a plan has been approved by an assistant chief, it can't be changed without going back to the assistant chief," she said.

Asked if Aguirre could suspend a Police Department policy on trespassing arrests for purposes of the crackdown, King said only the police chief can do so.

She also said Aguirre was authorized to charge 278 arrestees with attempted trespassing -- the lowest level of misdemeanor -- without consulting the district attorney's office. But, she said, the more serious misdemeanor of actual trespassing requires screening by a prosecutor.

Prosecutors Tommy LaFon and Vic Wisner contend the charges were invalid because police vouched for offenses they did not see committed. All were later dismissed.

Pretty straightforward so far - Aguirre did his own thing without approval, so the whole mess was his fault. Defense Attorney Terry Yates hasn't done much so far; I suspect he's saving the heavy artillery for after the prosecution rests.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 07, 2003 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup | TrackBack