Ex-officer shot in face in 1993 charged with indecency

By Phil Archer - Reporter, Nakia Cooper - Senior Web Editor

HOUSTON - A former Houston police officer who was ambushed and shot in the face at a police substation in 1993 is now facing charges of attempt to commit indecency with a child and indecency by exposure.

Daniel Vaughan is accused of victimizing a 15-year-old who was the daughter of a man who rented a house from him near Freeport in Brazoria County.

"During the course of the relationship between Vaughan and the father, Vaughan became comfortable enough to attempt to induce the child to touch his genitals, and exposed his genitals to the child," Brazoria County Sheriff Charles Wagner said Wednesday at a press conference.

The incident allegedly happened May 4, 2013. Eight days later, the girl made an outcry to social workers telling them her father was sexually abusing her, and that the abuse went back as far as she could remember. She also identified three more adults accused of harming her, including Vaughan.

Investigators executed a search warrant and seized computers, video tapes, cellphones and other items from the family's home.

"Digital evidence was located showing sexual abuse of the child," Wagner said.

The investigation took more than a year, but in the end, four people were accused in the sexual abuse case. The girl's father pleaded guilty to five counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child on July 23 and was sentenced to serve 50 years in prison.

Amy Gilliam, 36, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault of a child on Aug. 21 and was sentenced to five years in prison. Steven Watkins Jr., 23, is awaiting trial on the same charges.

Vaughan was the last to be charged. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on both charges.

Wagner says his initial reaction when he saw the evidence against Vaughan was disbelief.

"I've been in the business for 47 years, and when something like this takes place, when one of us is the suspect, it's hard on us, it's hard on everybody. Law enforcement is a great big family," he said.

Vaughan was indicted on Aug. 22 and turned himself in Wednesday at 4:20 a.m. He was released about eight hours later after posting a $25,000 bond.

Vaughan made national headlines two decades ago when a gunman walked into the South Central Substation on March 20, 1993 and shot him in the face at point-blank range.

Details of that horrific day were outlined on Vaughan's official website.

On March 20, 1993, Vaughan reported to work for a special assignment, but learned it was canceled. The single father of two was given the option of taking the day off, but chose to fill in at the front desk for a sick coworker. That decision significantly altered his life.

Gilbert Smith, a 22-year-old, walked into the substation and asked for a lieutenant. He was told that none were available and asked if a sergeant would be acceptable. He agreed. Vaughan was walking out to assist when Smith raised a .380-caliber gun and began firing.

The bullet went into Vaughan's right eye and into his skull. Smith fired another shot into Vaughan's right nostril, and two more rounds into his mouth. Smith then fled the scene, but was found hiding a few blocks away. Smith was later sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Vaughan miraculously survived, but lost his right eye, hearing in his left ear and was partially paralyzed.

After six months of intensive rehab and 15 surgeries, he walked out of the hospital and tried to resume a normal life, forever required to use a cane to walk, and suffering from traumatic brain injury.

He became a motivational speaker and worked in law enforcement training. After Arizona Congress member Gabrielle Giffords was similarly wounded in 2011, Vaughan told National Public Radio, "I have a traumatic brain injury. They call it TBI, traumatic brain injury. And I have a quality of life now far better than I had before the injury. So there is a quality of life after brain injury, and Gabby's going to have it too, I have no doubt."

Vaughan was not available for comment after his release. Vaughan's attorney Richard Anderson declined comment saying he hasn't yet seen the charges against Vaughan.

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