Police chief placed on administrative leave after officers raid family’s house in Galveston, city announces

GALVESTON, Texas – The city of Galveston’s police chief has been placed on administrative leave as an investigation into a raid at a family’s home begins.

Police Chief Doug Balli has been placed on a 10-day administrative leave by the city manager.

This comes amid an internal investigation being conducted, focusing on a possible failure of communication surrounding a raid at a house on Avenue O exactly one week ago.

Galveston Police Department officials are keeping quiet, but home surveillance footage points to what’s been described as a disturbing sequence of events one family says should’ve never happened.

“My kids and I were home sleeping,” said Erika Rios. “About 2 a.m., we were awakened by wooden pellets flying through our doors and sounds of the Galveston Police Department [saying] ‘Come out with your hands up.’”

Family members can be seen exiting the home one by one in the video.

Officials say they were there looking for a suspect involved in a murder from Jan. 20 where 25-year-old, Malik Dunn was found shot on the 3900 block of Sealy and later died.

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They say the suspect was a man by the name of Cameron Vargas who had visited Rios’ home but left hours earlier.

The Galveston County District Attorney’s office now saying Vargas was misidentified and is not a suspect.

“The original suspect, Cameron Vargas, is no longer a suspect. After the DA’s Office consulted with Galveston PD, they decided not to move forward with charges against Mr. Vargas,” said Kevin Petroff with the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office.

Rios says the damage for her and her family had already been done.

“I was scared, screaming,” said her daughter Chelsea Peralez. ”I ended up going to my brother, asking what they were doing, and they continuously kept shooting the wooden pellets.”

As Dunn’s murder investigation continues and officials look for the correct suspect, Rios and her family say they also want justice.

“This isn’t right what they have done, and us having to pay for all this,” Peralez said.

The family’s lawyer Mark Metzger declined to comment but said he and co-counsel Tony Buzbee are having a press conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday in Houston.

At that time, Metzger says they will be reading statements from the family and speaking on their next course of action.

As the investigation continues, Assistant Police Chief Andre Mitchell will serve as acting chief of the department.

The Galveston Municipal Police Association released the following statement:

“In the recent articles about Galveston Police Chief D. Balli, we would like the public to know that although GMPA’s relationship with the Chief is more often adversarial, you can be certain of this...Chief Balli would NEVER intentionally or knowingly allow an officer, specialized unit, or even a citizen to harm someone, or violate the law. If by chance there was a miscommunication issue, it will be uncovered and addressed in the investigation. Chief Balli would also never allow facts or actions to be hidden or concealed. Chief Balli is an upstanding citizen and leader who cares about the Island. GMPA is going to wait for the conclusion of the investigation before passing judgment and we ask that everyone else does the same. Thank you for your understanding in this difficult time.”

About the Authors:

Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.