I guess things were a little too quiet in the City Council District H runoff.
City Council candidate Adrian Garcia was disciplined for misplacing drug evidence, causing two accidents and missing work in his early days as a Houston police officer.
Diana Davila Martinez, who faces Garcia in a Saturday runoff for the District H council seat, said the incidents "demonstrate a pattern of very irresponsible behavior." Her campaign distributed the public records of sustained police internal affairs complaints involving Garcia.
"All of these sustained allegations are very serious, and Mr. Garcia cannot simply dismiss them as having occurred early in his career," Davila Martinez said. "They are part of his record. They represent him as an individual."
Garcia, who is now director of the city's Anti-Gang Task Force, said he regrets his mistakes but has served 17 unblemished years since the last allegation.
"I've had some bumps in the road, but I've tried to learn from those," Garcia said, adding that he has served under several police chiefs who are "strong disciplinarians" and would not have put him in charge of the Anti-Gang Task Force if there were a question about his integrity.
Garcia joined the Houston Police Department in 1980 and has never scored highly enough on promotion exams to achieve a rank above patrol officer. He has five sustained allegations against him on his police record, including a "criminal activity" charge in 1986 for misplacing a bag of marijuana that was supposed to be submitted to the crime lab for destruction. The marijuana was found a month later.
"It was just a series of errors and miscommunication and time off ... that resulted in the evidence not being placed in the proper room at the proper time," Garcia said.
Garcia also missed a day of work in 1981 because, he said, he was mistaken about his schedule. He was suspended for one day without pay as punishment.
He was in two car accidents while on duty, one in 1981 when he tried to make an illegal U-turn while responding to a call and collided with a bus. Garcia's partner, Richard J. Guerrero, was hospitalized with injuries including a fractured left leg and a fractured right ankle. That earned Garcia a five-day suspension.
In 1985, Garcia said, he rear-ended a motorist he was pulling over, and in 1984 he was reprimanded for discharging his weapon, which he said happened when he slipped and fell. No one was injured.
As for the charges themselves, well, the numbers are non-negligible, but there's nothing of substance since 1986. Garcia has chosen a variation on the "young and foolish" defense, and given the long clean spell in his record it may well suffice.
I find the timing of this charge, like the timing of Orlando Sanchez's bogus terrorism claim about Bill White, to be interesting. As in the case with White, the information being released is not exactly new. I can understand not wanting to fire such a weapon in the beginning of a campaign, but why wait until early voting is over? Why let 20% or so of the voters cast their ballots before you take your shot? I'm just wondering here. Maybe the fear that it would get forgotten over the Thanksgiving holiday affected the decision. I don't have a judgment to make about it from a tactical perspective, I'm just wondering what the decisionmaking process was.
UPDATE: According to my neighborhood bulletin board, Diana Davila Martinez has received the endorsements of Hector Longoria (!) and Gabe Vasquez. The mailer she sent which includes the above information about Adrian Garcia's record with the police force drew a mostly negative reaction on the board as well.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 03, 2003 to Election 2003 | TrackBack