Judge Orders HPD to Recover Guns Used to Kill Chase Suspect
23 May 2008
FOX 26 News
HOUSTON -- A judge has ordered the city of Houston to recover the guns officers used in the fatal shooting of a high-speed chase suspect in April after his wife requested them as evidence in a lawsuit she filed against the police department.
Susan Carnaby, the widow of slain chase suspect Roland Carnaby, asked Federal Judge Keith Ellison to ensure evidence in the case -- specifically the guns used in the fatal shooting of her husband -- to be preserved. She claimed the guns have been put back in service without her attorney being given the opportunity to examine the weapons.
"One of the most serious things that I saw was the guns that were used in the shooting were given back to the officers," Susan Carnaby's attorney Randall said. " Well, that's not preservation of evidence."
On Thursday, Kallinen said officers with the Houston Police Department failed to follow its own policy regarding chases and high-risk vehicles. Kallinen said they should have taken cover and talked Carnaby out of his sport-utility vehicle.
"Their high-risk vehicle approach policy clearly states that you get behind cover and you communicate with the individual. The officers did not get behind cover, but they attacked the vehicle -- busting in the window with a night stick and shooting Mr. Carnaby in the back unarmed," Kallinen said. "If the officers had followed this policy, Mr. Carnaby would not be dead today."
Carnaby, 52, was pulled over April 29 for speeding and then led police on a chase when the officer discovered he possessed a concealed weapon license. Officials found two handguns and a shotgun in his vehicle, including one they say was within his reach.
"Negligent use or maintenance of a firearm can cause liability for a city and, in this case, we don't know the condition of the gun," Houston Police Department Chief Harold Hurtt said.
Federal credentials also were found in his vehicle, although detectives said on May 2 that both the CIA and the FBI have vehemently denied his employment with the agencies.
Susan Carnaby continues to claim that her husband was a CIA operative, which remains under investigation.
Hurtt told FOX 26 News that he has confirmed that Carnaby was not a member of the FBI or CIA. However, Carnaby may have been a paid informant at one time.
"I did contact the FBI the day of the incident and asked them to research the individual. I was called back and told the individual was not a member of the FBI nor CIA," Hurtt said.
On May 2, Susan Carnaby filed a lawsuit against the City of Houston and two police officers alleging police shot an unarmed motorist in the back with no criminal record. The lawsuit also alleged the city violated the fourth amendment by failing to provide medical treatment after he was shot, according to an statement issued from Kallinen.
The officers said they shot Carnaby because they thought he may have been reaching for a gun when he made a sudden movement. Detectives later determined Carnaby was reaching for his cell phone.
Detectives said Carnaby was shot in the torso and remained handcuffed until emergency personnel arrived at the scene to transport him to a hospital, but he died on the way.
After Carnaby's death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's officials, his family filed a lawsuit against Houston Police Department, alleging officers escalated the matter and didn't provide him immediate medical attention.
"The concept that seven or eight officers who arrest people on a daily basis, carry guns and have 20 years of experience are so traumatized by shooting someone...that they can't give aid is, frankly, ridiculous," Carnaby's family attorney Randall Kallinen said.
It is the police department's policy to render medical aid for wounded persons, but officials said Friday officers are not trained to treat gunshot wounds.
"One of the reasons why they do this job is that they want to help...," Dirden said. "So it's not like they shoot somebody and say, 'OK, we're gonna let him lay there and die.'"
But Kallinen said he doesn't buy the department's story.
"If that is so, the Houston Police Department is lacking... because police officers often run into many individuals who are injured or shot and they should at least be knowledgeable in first aid training," he said.
Officials also said it is the officer's first priority is their safety.
"You instantly cuff the suspect and then search him to make sure there's no weapons on them...," Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Brian Lumpkin said. "And then at that point it's up to the officer's discretion if you're going to unhandcuff 'em."
Houston police also said the two handguns found in Carnaby's vehicle were traced to a local gun shop, where he purchased them. HPD still has not tracked down the origin of the shotgun found in his sport utility vehicle.
HPD officials said May 5 that the officers who fatally shot Carnaby may have been overcome by what happened during the citywide chase. Department officials said the two officers who opened fire on Carnaby have been checked out by psychologists and were back at work.
The judge told the city on Friday that he is not inclined to issue a gag order in this case as the City of Houston has requested.
The shooting remains under investigation by HPD and a Harris County Grand Jury.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
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