July 31, 2019
Following a 5-0 vote by Harris County Commissioner's Court late yesterday afternoon, District Attorney Kim Ogg is adding seven prosecutors and three investigators to the Civil Rights Division. Funding was requested to increase the capacity and speed of the Harding St. investigation of HPD Narcotics squad officers involved in a drug raid and police shooting that left two citizens dead and a police officer paralyzed. Shortly after the incident, the District Attorney's Office announced a review of more than 2,000 cases involving the lead officer, Gerald Goines; most recently, DA investigators and attorneys requested and received an additional 14,000 case files for review.
“We now have the horsepower to get to the bottom of the Harding Street raid and related concerns,” Ogg said Wednesday. “The public deserves answers sooner than later.”
The additional staff members will more than double the size of the division, which previously had four prosecutors and five investigators.
The Civil Rights Division goes to the scene of all officer-involved shootings; they are on call 24 hours a day.
In every such shooting, the prosecutors present all evidence and all possible criminal charges to grand jurors to determine if the on or off duty incidents violate the involved-person's civil rights or another law. The division also reviews use of force incidents and in custody deaths.
“It is important to hold officers accountable for wrongdoing when they have done and wrong, and it is equally important to clear them of wrongdoing when they have not,” said Assistant District Attorney Natasha Sinclair, chief of the Civil Rights Division.
In additional to investigating the Harding Street shooting, prosecutors are reviewing more than 14,000 incidents involving the narcotics officers being scrutinized. Incidents are any interaction in which an officer files a report, regardless of whether a criminal charge was filed.