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Probe of Sheriff’s office urged

Good.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis and other lawmakers today said they have asked the Texas attorney general to investigate the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s surveillance of two brothers who successfully sued the county and the Sheriff’s Office.

Ellis, D-Houston, said the recent disclosure that sheriff’s deputies were assigned to watch Erik and Sean Ibarra amounts to Gestapo tactics.

“We are all concerned that our Sheriff’s Office is putting private citizens under surveillance,” Ellis said at his downtown law office.

He was flanked by the brothers, as well as other Houston-area lawmakers.

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said the agency has not received the lawmakers’ letter but “will give it full weight and gravity” when it arrives.

[…]

Ellis said he could understand the need for surveillance if the Ibarra brothers had been charged with a crime, but they weren’t.

Sean Ibarra said the surveillance was “totally wrong.”

[…]

County officials have said the surveillance was part of preparation for the trial and was not illegal.

The brothers and their attorney, Lloyd Kelly, are threatening another lawsuit.

“We believe an independent outside investigation is necessary to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office is not routinely violating the civil rights of the very citizens he has sworn to protect,” Ellis and other lawmakers wrote to Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The letter was signed by Ellis, state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, and state representatives Ellen Cohen, Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez all Democrats from Houston.

The group said they want to know whether the Sheriff’s Office “investigative support unit” has made it a habit of putting private citizens under surveillance without cause.

I’m very glad to see this. I hope that there is constant pressure applied on the Sheriff’s Office over this, and on the County Judge and County Attorney as well to exercise some oversight of that office, since it seems incapable to policing itself. This stuff needs to stop.

Here’s KPRC’s story, with video.

More to come on this, I’m sure.

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