By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Clay Reilly, vice president of Interstate Adjusters, a vehicle repossession company, says no HPD supervisors ever appeared on the scene, though the church was buzzed by a police helicopter.
While there were plenty of witnesses to the arrest in the parking lot area, the police report cites Davis's companion in the squad car, Sharon Russell, as a corroborating witness in backing the officer's account. Davis apparently had permission to have a guest in her squad car, says police spokesman Jack Cato, although the required permit was not verified in the police report. It is not clear whether Russell is a personal friend of the officer.
Although Cameron was charged with public intoxication, the witnesses who talked to The Insider all confirm there were no alcoholic beverages on the church grounds and Cameron was not drinking at the scene. Cameron says he requested a Breathalyzer test from arresting officers but was not given one.
Cameron, who has a DWI violation from two years ago and an out-of-state marijuana possession conviction more than a decade old, denies either resisting arrest or being intoxicated during the St. Jerome's incident. He claims he suffered bruises and abrasions from Davis's throwing him to the ground, as well as a swollen ear from a kick to the head by the officers who came to her assistance. Pictures taken by friends of the alleged injuries showed a badly swollen ear and scratches, but otherwise appeared inconclusive.
At about the same time Cameron was meeting the pavement of the church parking lot, a woman's purse was snatched during a Boy Scout car wash at the neighborhood Randalls a few blocks away, according to Leonard Rivera, the scoutmaster of Troop 152. Rivera says bystanders at the Randalls waited for 30 minutes for a responding officer.
HPD spokesman Cato wasn't surprised to learn of the rapid, massive response to Davis's call for assistance, saying such reaction is commonplace when an officer is believed to be in danger.
Cameron did not file a complaint with HPD's Internal Affairs Division, but he has retained a lawyer to initiate a civil action against the city. Cato says that witnesses who have information on police misconduct should contact Internal Affairs. Counters Cameron's friend Clay Reilly: "We don't trust the police."
Rivera says that after the officers left the scene, he tried to explain to his troop that what they had seen was not representative of Houston police behavior. Rivera says Cameron's sole offense was to approach the officer and ask why his friend had been stopped. "I didn't know that was against the law," he says.
Rivera's 13-year old son Nathan has no doubts about the propriety of officer Davis's actions, which he witnessed at close range.
"I think it was wrong," says the eighth grader. "When she said, 'Get on the ground,' he said, 'Yes ma'am, I'm on the ground.' He was really no threat to her at all."
Save Our Judges!
Democratic judges are an endangered species in Harris County courts these days, and the firm of similarly endangered lawyer John O'Quinn isn't lying back waiting for the rest to disappear. While O'Quinn battles authorities in South Carolina and Texas over allegations of case running, partner Rick Laminack is urging fellow lawyers to support civil district judges Kathy Stone and Carolyn Johnson, the only Democrats up for election in 1998, by influencing upcoming polls of Houston Bar Association members.
"It is no secret that opposition forces have targeted Judges Stone and Johnson for elimination," writes Laminack in a widely circulated missive to Democratic lawyers. "Our clients deserve justice and a fair playing field when their respective causes are heard. We must act now by coming to the aid of these two women."
The Bar Association will ask members to rate Harris County judges later this year, and Laminack is trying to sign up enough attorneys to improve the standing of the Democratic jurists. The letter asks recipients to fill out an association enrollment form and send it back to him, along with a check for membership fees.
"I will be responsible for delivering these to the HBA office and following up to make sure that you receive a ballot at the appropriate time," Laminack promises.
Wonder whether O'Quinn and Laminack will now disqualify themselves from trying cases before those judges that Laminack is trying so publicly to re-elect? Laminack was out of town and unavailable for comment.
Bar Association president Scott Rozzell says that since a major selling point for membership in the association is participation in its polls, he's neither surprised nor disturbed by Laminack's letter.
Contact The Insider at 624-1483 or 624-1496 (fax), or e-mail him at Insider@houston-press.com.