Homeowner claims HPD officer illegally entered and searched without permission

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas –  A lawsuit has been filed against the Houston Police Department.

The lawsuit, filed by Brent Coon and Associates, alleges that an officer of the department and another uniformed officer broke into a Harris County home, destroyed its surveillance system, searched the home with no one there, went through their mail and left the home with the door open before the homeowners arrived back at their residence.

Robin Custer's husband arrived at their property in Highlands, Texas, at 2:30 p.m. March 5, 2015, to find that their home had been invaded and their security cameras disabled, the lawsuit alleges. Robin Custer quickly left work and joined her husband at their home.

She told KPRC 2, "I was mad. I was angry. Very soon after that, I was petrified. When the good guys are the bad guys who do you call? I called my mom. At that time, that was the only person that I trusted."

The lawsuit says that the Custers' security-camera footage had been saved to a DVR, and that their neighbor had recorded security-camera footage that also captured the alleged incident.

The videos show an HPD patrol unit pull into the family's driveway, with two officers getting out of the car and surveying the Custers' home, according to the lawsuit. One of the officers was seen in an HPD uniform, while the second officer wore a tactical vest marked "POLICE."

The lawsuit alleges that one officer used his police flashlight to force open the couple's front door and then began walking around the house, disabling each of the Custers' security cameras.

Both officers were in the home for several minutes, then exited the property, removed the couple's mail and then left, the lawsuit said. The front door was allegedly left open by the officers.

The lawsuit said that Robin Custer arrived home from work shortly thereafter and the same HPD patrol unit was seen driving by the house with knowledge that the Custers were then at home. The officers allegedly never went back to speak to the Custers.

"I am astonished by two things: First, that the very people who we as a community trust to protect us would ever engage in this type of illegal activity, and second, that their superiors did not seem to think it was a big deal when brought to their attention by the homeowners," Brent Coon, attorney in charge of the matter, was quoted as saying. "This was a home invasion." 

The lawsuit says that the plaintiff is suing for negligence, and gross negligence as the officers committed various acts of negligence and caused physical and emotional injuries and damages to the Custers' personal property.

The dollar figure was not specified in the lawsuit. Robin Custer was still emotional after two years. She said she wanted an apology. She added, "Had I entered their home, I would have had to have to be accountable.  I think they should as well."

"The officers didn't belong there. They didn't have a search warrant," Coon said. "The homeowners had done nothing wrong or illegal."

A spokesperson for the Houston mayor’s office said that the City of Houston would not comment about the case because of the pending lawsuit.