June 06, 2007
Bradford still part of K-Mart lawsuit

It's been almost two years since we last had an update on the K-Mart Kiddie Roundup story.

Former Houston police Chief C.O. Bradford's request to be severed from a lawsuit related to an infamous crackdown on street racing has been denied by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In an opinion filed Monday, the appellate court ruled that it does not have jurisdiction in the case and, therefore, did not have the authority to grant Bradford's motion to be removed from the federal lawsuit.

Bradford was chief at the time of the raid. Contacted by phone Monday night, Bradford said he could not comment without consulting with his attorney.

The litigation was filed after almost 300 people were arrested on Aug. 18, 2002, during a raid on the Kmart parking lot in 8400 block of Westheimer in an attempt to combat street racing. Most of those arrested were charged with trespassing or curfew violations, but none was accused of street racing. The raid produced public outcry and the charges were dropped.

In response to the raid, 10 lawsuits involving more than 100 plaintiffs were filed, accusing police of brandishing pistols and shotguns, and verbally abusing some during the incident. Bradford, who was not at the raid, was named in all of the lawsuits.

In July 2005, in a scathing opinion, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas ruled that the lawsuits could go forward.


Bradford had appealed Atlas' decision. But in its ruling Monday, the 5th Circuit said Bradford had made arguments about fact that could only be ruled on by the district court.

I'm not qualified to opine on the legal mumbojumbo. At a high level, it pretty much comes down to how much Bradford knew, and how much he could or should have known. It's been clear from the beginning that fired HPD captain Mark Aguirre was directly responsible for the mess as it took place. Aguirre has claimed that Bradford knew what he was doing and approved of it; Bradford has denied that he approved the specific plan. That much certainly sounds like a matter of fact for the lower court to decide. How long it will take to get to that point from here, I have no idea.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 06, 2007 to K-Mart Kiddie Roundup