Flashing Lights

The HISD police officer was supposed to be there to protect children. Instead, he raped a 17-year-old and said it was her fault. And HISD says it bears no blame at all.

 Officers shall maintain a professional demeanor and shall perform their duties in a calm and firm manner acting together to assist and protect each other in maintaining law and order. -- HISD police handbook

Red lights flashed in her rearview mirror as Brandi Leigh Hyde drove down South Shepherd. When she pulled over, an officer took her driver's license and asked if she'd been drinking. Brandi said she'd had a couple of beers with dinner, but it was nearly 3 a.m. He told her to sit in the GTE Mobilnet parking lot and sober up for about 45 minutes. Not wanting to back-talk an officer, the 17-year-old flipped on her radio and got out of her car. It was a hot, humid night, May 18, 1997; she sat on the tailgate of her sandy-brown Chevy, and he asked if she wanted him to stay. No, she said, I'll be fine by myself.

Leaning against her truck, he asked where she worked and what she did. Brandi told him she waited tables at the Colorado Bar and Grill. He said he liked the strippers there and asked if she danced. She said no, and he told her that with her figure, she should -- he also said he noticed she wasn't wearing a bra. Brandi, a large-busted girl, was sitting with her arms crossed over her white T-shirt; she had been sleeping when a drunk girlfriend called asking for a ride home, and Brandi hadn't planned to get out of the car. The officer said he'd like to see her breasts.

Brandi pulled over like any law-abiding citizen would.
Monica Fuentes
Brandi pulled over like any law-abiding citizen would.

What? Brandi asked. Shocked and suddenly scared, she didn't know what to say.

Have you ever been to jail? he asked.

No, she said.

Do you want to?

She thought if she flashed him really quickly she could go home. She didn't know if he could charge her with anything, and she didn't want to get a ticket or ruin her driving record, so behind the truck she lifted her shirt. He told her she looked so good he wanted to see the rest of her. He said to follow him through the red lights on Westheimer to Lamar High School. If you lose me, he said, I'll find you. And I'll screw your whole world up.

He knew where she lived, he knew what her truck looked like, and she was afraid if she turned down a side street or tried to run to the freeway he would radio other cops to chase her for evading arrest. "I've seen them track people," Brandi says. So she followed him to Lamar's unlit west parking lot, where he ordered her to strip. She told him she didn't want to, her roommate would be looking for her and she needed to go home. He reminded her that he was an officer and she had to do what he said. Naive as a college freshman who really believes a guy just wants to "listen to music" in his dorm room, Brandi thought he would look at her and then let her leave. She took her clothes off, put them right back on and started to go home, but the officer unzipped his pants and told her to give him a blow job. She said she didn't want to, and he asked again if she wanted to go to jail. With his hand on her shoulder he eased Brandi to her knees and thrust himself into her mouth. He couldn't get an erection; still he forced his flaccid member inside her. Over the next hour, he alternately tried (and failed) to vaginally and anally rape her, making her go down on him between each effort.

She kept saying, "No, please don't make me do this." He repeated over and over again how good she was. At one point another patrol car drove by, braked and continued on. Nervous, the officer went to his car and talked on the radio for a few minutes. Brandi tried to set off her car alarm to attract the other policeman's attention, but it didn't work. She succeeded a few minutes later, but if anyone heard, no one responded.

An athlete, Brandi thought about trying to outrun him, but he had a gun and she was afraid he'd shoot her and say she was just a drunk kid attacking him. She wanted to kick him, but he got progressively more aggressive and she didn't want to anger him further; running through her head were stories of girls who got raped, fought back and got killed.

He stuck three fat fingers inside her. As she felt his nails tear her flesh she told him it hurt and asked him to stop. Baby, he said, you feel so good. When he went down on her she closed her eyes, turned her head and tried not to throw up; she told herself it would be over soon and she could go home and forget about it. She repeated that she had to leave, her roommate would be looking for her. Just a little bit longer, he said. Just one more blow job.

He wrote down both his pager and home phone numbers and told her his name was "Red" Nicholas. He asked her to call him in the morning so they could meet and make love. You may be drunk, he said, but I'm drunk in love with you.

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