Harris County Precinct 4 constable's office passes audit, constable says
HOUSTON – An independent auditor spent two weeks reviewing more than 15,000 pieces of evidence currently stored in Precinct 4 property rooms.
Constable Mark Herman said the audit found just two pieces evidence missing.
“The two items that we cannot find, they’re videos. They’re a video of an officer being assaulted. We had an in car video.” Herman said. “And we had a trash fire videoed after the fire was put out, but we have no suspects on that.”
Herman said he ordered the audit after a former deputy in charge of the property room destroyed thousands of pieces of evidence improperly, forcing prosecutors to drop charges in some cases.
So far, the DA has dismissed 101 cases, mostly drug cases, because of missing evidence.
The missing evidence became major issue in the district attorney’s race, which incumbent Devon Anderson lost.
Former Precinct 4 Deputy Constable Chris Hess was responsible for improperly disposing of the evidence and is under criminal investigation, Herman said.
“We have one person whether he intentionally negligently or accidentally did what he did, he put a lot of hurt on our organization.” Herman said.
Last October, there were fears that more than 20,000 pieces of evidence had been improperly destroyed, but Herman said the actual number is much smaller.
He said a total of 7,761 pieces of evidence were improperly destroyed, 861 of them connected to 470 pending cases. Of those cases, Herman said 183 were drug cases. In most of the remaining open cases, there were no suspects or charges.
Herman said new procedures suggested by the auditor are being put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again, including additional levels of supervision required to destroy evidence.