HOUSTON – Houston-area law enforcement has long been voicing its concerns over what police say is a revolving door criminal justice system that forces them to chase the same crooks repeatedly. The latest case to draw criticism involves a suspect in a high-speed chase Monday.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan Patrick jumped into the verbal fray on Twitter.
"The wholesale release of dangerous felons in Harris County is outrageous," Patrick wrote on Thursday. "My office works every day with local police to keep these guys off the street if there is an appropriate federal charge. SDTX is putting every resource we have into local violent crime."
Outside the Houston Police Department headquarters, Chief Art Acevedo rattled off a litany of charges filed against Clayton Bryant, who led police on the chase through southeast Houston.
"This is a guy that is out on eight bonds in Harris County," he said. "It's time for the judges in Harris County to decide who they come to work for."
Harris County records show Bryant, 36, is facing more than a dozen charges including assault of a public servant, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, evading arrest and aggravated robbery. His criminal history dates back to 2001.
"He has 14 felony cases pending, and he's got a rap sheet that would wrap around the Astrodome," said President of the Houston Police Officers' Union Joe Gamaldi.
Gamaldi was so incensed he blasted Bryant’s record and mug shot all over social media. Patrick responded to one of Gamaldi’s tweets.
Two weeks ago, KPRC 2 Investigates reported the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives filed federal gun charges against Adan Campuzano. The federal charges came after Campuzano, a convicted felon, was released on a personal bond in Harris County and racked up new charges.
Since then, KPRC 2 Investigates found at least three more similar cases.
For example, Harris County records show Jonathan Soto bonded out of jail on robbery charges only to be accused of committing more crimes, including murder. Federal court records show he is also now facing federal robbery charges.
Officials with the ATF's Houston Office can't talk about specific cases but released a written statement.
"Through the Crime Gun Strike Force, ATF works with prosecutors to keep the most violent criminals off the streets," the office wrote.
Both Acevedo and Gamaldi said they have been to Washington, DC, to meet with the Trump administration and asked for help.
"We're very proud of the fact that our partners at ATF, with the help of the U.S. Attorney's Office, are going to start taking on many more of these cases," said Acevedo.
Through social media channels, Acevedo also said the department will start putting out the history of repeat offenders officers, the names of the judges handling those cases, and what decisions they made.