Cop who took his life was part of ticket-rigging probe

HOUSTON (USA TODAY)-- The officer who shot and killed himself Tuesday in downtown Houston was under internal investigation for his alleged role in a ticket-rigging scheme, police have confirmed.

The Houston Police Department has not released the name of the officer, who was a 21-year veteran of the force.

Multiple sources confirm that he was relieved of duty earlier Tuesday. He is one of four officers relieved and ordered to turn in their badges amid a ticket-rigging investigation that questions where those officers were, and when.

A preliminary investigation show that after leaving traffic court Tuesday, the officer went back to the garage and entered his patrol car.

Police sources said the emergency lights in the victim's patrol unit had been turned on and were flashing, which prompted officers to take a closer look. They found him dead inside the car.

"When officers pulled him out of the vehicle, at that point, they determined he was deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound," said Houston Police Public Information Officer Victor Senties.

The officers also retrieved the weapon from the patrol car.

A KHOU-TV analysis of speeding tickets written by the Houston Police Traffic Enforcement Unit reveals several dozen cases in which officers were listed in two places at once. That includes the officer who committed suicide.

For example, he is listed on two tickets along the Katy Freeway one early February morning. At 12:29 a.m., he is shown as a witnessing officer near one location, but also at 12:29 a.m, the same officer is listed as writing a ticket to another citizen at a location seven miles away.

Another set of questionable tickets occurred late at night in May along the Katy Freeway. Records show the same officer was supposedly at Westcott Street witnessing a speeder. But somehow, he was also writing up a citizen for speeding nine miles away at the same exact time.

KHOU-TV also identified cases in which the same officer was listed on two completely different roads. Also in May, the same officer is listed at I-610 and Memorial Drive at 12:52 a.m., but also listed at I-10 and Gessner Road at 12:52 a.m.

Law enforcement sources told KHOU-TV the motivation for the alleged ticket-rigging was court overtime. Witnessing officers are subpoenaed and must appear ready to testify.

Records show the officer who killed himself made $158,000 in overtime over the past three years.

It's unclear how much of that overtime was linked to the questionable tickets.

Relief of a duty is an action that HPD traditionally has taken in only the most serious of cases, that may result in criminal charges.

The Houston Police Department was not immediately available for comment.


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