Criminal complaint filed by Galveston county judge to investigate power outages during winter storm

Judge Mark Henry blaming at least 4 deaths on misinformation, says someone should be held accountable

HOUSTON – Galveston County Judge Mark Henry says he wants tough action. He said someone out there is responsible for at least four deaths in the county last month. He’s blaming those deaths on power outages that lasted longer than expected during the winter storm.

A criminal complaint filed Monday with the Galveston County District Attorney’s office could lead to an investigation and charges filed at the DA’s discretion.

It wasn’t hard to find people who agree with Judge Henry’s decision to call for a criminal investigation. Right across the street from his office in League City, are the Pecan Forest Village Townhomes. Everyone we spoke to there on Monday agreed that someone somewhere dropped the ball big time and should be held accountable.

Memories from February’s winter snow and ice storm, are still frozen into the minds of people who live in the area, including Billy Finster who like so many others, lost power for hours at a time.

“Fifteen hours at a time, it was very cold, couldn’t get a good enough fire or anything,” Finster said.

“Why were residents cut off and left off, while office building s downtown remained powered on the entire time,” Judge Henry said.

Henry said there was misinformation after being told there would be rolling or intermediate blackout periods, which instead lasted for hours longer or days for thousands.

“Had they been honest with us and told us that there would not be rolling blackouts, then we would’ve ordered evacuations, we would’ve set up warming centers, we would’ve made a whole host different decisions,” Henry said.

KPRC 2 News Legal Analyst Brian Wice calls the loss of life a tragedy but expressed concern about what he called “weaponizing” the legal system to hold major companies responsible for what happened.

“Every crime is a tragedy, but every tragedy is not a crime,” Wice said. “If we utilize and weaponize criminal law to second guess decisions made by corporations how soon are we going to look at decisions made by politicians that may have resulted in tragedy.”

A representative from Galveston County District Attorney, Jack Roady’s office said Monday, the complaint is being investigated, but wouldn’t comment further.