Letter lays out case for firing of HPD officer accused of fleeing shooting that killed sergeant

HOUSTON – A termination letter obtained Thursday by KPRC 2 Investigates showed a Houston police officer was fired after running away from a shooting that left a sergeant at the scene dead.

“Prayers for the Preston family because this is just going to open this wound back up for them,” said Houston Police Officers’ Union president, Douglas Griffith.

The letter signed by former Houston police Chief Art Acevedo reads Officer Vanessa Taylor was being indefinitely suspended for shirking her duty during the October 2020 shooting that killed Sgt. Harold Preston and for her handling of a domestic violence complaint that led up to the gunfire.

According to the letter, a review board determined that Taylor was in a tactically superior position to the shooter. According to the letter, video from her body-worn camera showed that she ran from the scene of the shooting instead of engaging the shooter when the gunshots started. She hid at the back of the complex and failed to assist her fellow officers who had been wounded by the shooting, according to the letter.

“While citizens run from threats to their safety, police officers are expected to engage a suspect who is using deadly force to harm citizens and other officers and to assist injured persons,” Acevedo wrote.

E.M. is Elmer Manzano, the man who has been charged with capital murder, attempted capital murder and aggravated assault in connection with the shooting.

The letter went on to accuse Taylor of failing to aid fellow Officer Courtney Waller and Preston, even after Waller radioed that he had been hit and that Preston was down and unresponsive.

Sgt. Harold Preston (HPD)

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