Three Rice University police officers called to grand jury

Attorney Rusty Hardin answers questions about how officers handled arrest

HOUSTON – Since grand jury proceedings are by law not open to the public, officials with the Harris County District Attorney's Office would not comment on why three Rice University police officers were at the courthouse on Monday. Local 2 Investigates learned the officers spent several hours inside the room that houses grand jury proceedings at the courthouse.

One Rice U. police officer had no comment when seen by Local 2 leaving the grand jury room. A second officer drove away from the courthouse in his Rice University police SUV before Local 2 had a chance to speak with him about why he was called to the courthouse. Law enforcement officials said the SUV had been parked in front of the courthouse since 7:45 am. Local 2 learned a third officer left the grand jury room and courthouse via a back entrance.

As Local 2 reported, the DA's Office launched an investigation after we exposed a controversial arrest by Rice University police officers. Local 2 obtained a portion of a video showing officers striking Ivan Joe Waller several times with a baton.

Waller, who has a lengthy criminal history, was arrested after stealing a "bait bike" from campus. Local 2 obtained only a portion of a video that sources said is several minutes in length.

Rice officials declined Local 2's repeated requests to view the entire video to better understand why the officer felt that level of force was necessary. Rice officials stated that since the police department is part of a private institution it is not required to respond to requests for information from the public.

However, Rice officials did state an internal review determined the officers' actions were justified because Waller was combative and resisted arrest.

Waller pleaded guilty to stealing the bike, but later filed a complaint with the DA's civil rights division.

The grand jury has not yet made a decision on this case.

Rusty Hardin, an attorney representing Rice University, said once the investigation is complete the university will release the full video tape to the public.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”