Houston police officer resigns after being accused of penetrating Capitol, HPD says

Multiple sources have identified the officer. One source says he was relieved of duty Wednesday

Houston police said Thursday morning that an officer accused of “penetrating” the U.S. Capitol building last week has announced his resignation from the department.

HOUSTON – Houston police said Thursday morning that an officer accused of “penetrating” the U.S. Capitol building last week has announced his resignation from the department.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said during remarks Wednesday that the Houston police officer -- on his own time -- attended the Trump rally in Washington and then “penetrated” the U.S. Capitol building last week.

There is an investigation underway and Acevedo said he is “highly confident” he will be facing federal charges. He is now on administrative leave, Acevedo said.

“There is no excuse for criminal activity, especially from a police officer,” Acevedo said. “I can’t tell you the anger I feel at the thought of a police officer and other police officers thinking they get to go storm the Capitol or members of the military or the Secret Service. And so our commitment here in the Houston area is always to the rule of law. And it saddens me to report that we have that one officer. And I want to announce it here because it’s the facts. And I’m trying to relax on a Sunday night, I got my email with me and a member of this community sent me a picture showing the officer doing anything, with a Trump flag, face covered and the first thing I did, I went to that person’s Facebook confirmed it was one of our officers that was there. Keep in mind, everyone has a First Amendment right to engage in First Amendment activity but I first wanted to make sure that they didn’t pass beyond that and do something unlawful and I can tell you that there’s a high probability that this individual will be charged with federal charges and rightfully so.”

Sources tell KPRC the officer is Tam Dinh Pham. A KPRC 2 source says he was relieved of duty this morning.

Tam Dinh Pham (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Acevedo said Pham has 18 years of service with the department and no previous disciplinary issues. The chief said he traveled alone to Washington.

Law enforcement tells Channel 2 Investigates they are also investigating multiple other individuals in the southern Texas region over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The source indicated none of those being probed are members of law enforcement.

Potential criminal charges against individuals alleged to be involved are expected to come out of Washington D.C. as that is the hub for the massive investigation. However, local federal agencies are providing support in the investigative process.

HPD’s union tells KPRC Pham’s resignation is expected on Thursday.

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Acevedo said he learned the officer may have been involved on Sunday and reported the information to the FBI and a joint investigation was initiated.

The chief said he gave the officer 48-hour notice to meet with him.

“Let’s see if he shows up,” Acevedo said. “There is no excuse (for this), especially from a police officer.”

Acevedo made the remarks while answering questions about public safety ahead of planned or unplanned assemblies in the city leading up to next week’s presidential inauguration.

Acevedo said there are no known threats to Houston or to the county, but he described the region as a “hotbed” of activity for right wing nationalist and hate groups.

The chief said effective Friday at 6 a.m. officers will be taking a modified “all hands on-deck” posture in the area and officers will not be able to take additional days off through Jan. 20. That posture will be reassessed after the inauguration.

Airports were of note, in particular. Acevedo said the area airports will not become protest zones and will be maintained a secure environment.

“If you start acting the fool, you will be asked to leave,” he said.

The department is monitoring social media and is asking the public to report things they see to their local authorities and the FBI.

“Do not be dismissive,” Acevedo said. “Report it.”

KPRC 2 knocked on the door at the officer’s listed address on Wednesday but no one answered.