September 30, 2004
Aguirre's arbitration ends

Fired HPD Captain Mark Aguirre's arbitration hearing has ended with a little media bashing.

Fired Houston police Capt. Mark Aguirre's civil service hearing ended Wednesday with testimony from Executive Assistant Police Chief Chuck McClelland, who called media footage of the infamous Kmart arrests an unfair and inaccurate portrayal of the Houston Police Department.

Referencing video footage of numerous youths handcuffed and sitting in a Kmart parking lot in the 8400 block of Westheimer, McClelland said, "I don't think that was an accurate portrayal of the Houston Police Department, of the hardworking men and women that were involved in that operation, and it's unfair."


McClelland, who approved an initial plan for the raid, also was disciplined and given a seven-day suspension. He is appealing that disciplinary action, which is pending.

You can draw your own conclusions about that, but first let's go to the Wayback Machine and see what some other police officers said at the time:

"I couldn't believe we were being told to arrest all those kids. It was just utterly, utterly senseless," said one officer involved, who violated department policy by discussing the arrests and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Captain [Mark] Aguirre was put in charge, and it went to hell in a handbasket," said a police supervisor who was at the scene, also violating department policy and requesting anonymity.


The two supervisors said police had "scout cars" and undercover officers working surveillance at the gathering spot for weeks in preparation for Sunday's raid.

"But we got out there, and no one was racing," said one of the supervisors. "So Aguirre just said, `Arrest them all for trespass.'

"It was like, `Kill them all and let God sort them out,' " said the other supervisor. "I guess we're just lucky he didn't order us to fire warning shots into the crowd or anything."

Both supervisors said many of the people arrested were not in cars. Many were eating food from the Sonic, which was open until 2 a.m., or had been shopping at Kmart.

Like I said, draw your own conclusions.

Aguirre's attorney, Terry W. Yates, said he thinks Aguirre will be vindicated.

"This is the only appeal that's really going to be heard and fully bring these facts out. We've shown this arbitrator, we believe, that what those men and women did that night, they were justified in doing," Yates said.

If that's all he's got, I wouldn't put money down on that proposition. We'll know what the arbitrator thinks soon enough.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 30, 2004 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup | TrackBack