HPD working to determine extent of evidence damage

HOUSTON – Houston police tell Channel 2 Investigates it will take until the end of December to determine whether hundreds of pieces of evidence suffered damage from a faulty sprinkler head.

Last month, a single sprinkler accidentally went off inside the freezer of HPD's property room.

The freezer is where biological and toxicological evidence is stored.

"Thus far, approximately 2,000 items relating to 1,300 cases have been identified," an HPD spokesperson wrote.

HPD officials reported, to date, they have repackaged 264 evidentiary items relating to 203 cases. HPD officials said 60 percent of the repackaged items did not sustain damage.

"The remaining items sustained damage of some type. This includes damage to outer boxes and envelopes, but not necessarily the evidence contained inside,"  the statement read.

HPD officials have said evidence stored in boxes and envelopes should be sealed in zip-lock bags or some other type of plastic container.

President of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, Tyler Flood, said about 10 of the Association's 800 members reported receiving a notice from the District Attorney's Office that evidence in their cases are part of the review.

"We don't know the extent," said Flood. "Right now we are still in complete limbo, no solid answers on which way we need to go."

The Houston Forensic Science Center is working with HPD to determine if any evidence was contaminated during this accident. HPD officials have not yet said what caused the sprinkler head to malfunction.