Greg Snider has a question for the Houston Police Department that we don't find unreasonable but that HPD finds freakin' annoying: He says he wants to know why multiple police officers descended upon him, handcuffed him and shoved him in the back of a squad car for an hour after he gave a homeless dude some spare change.
The 41-year-old father of four says it all happened January 8 after he left a job site at Hardy and Hays streets. Snider, who says he works for a company that provides ultrasound services for the oil and gas industry, was talking with a client on his phone while looking for I-10 West -- he was headed to his home in Katy. He says he got turned around, and decided to pull over and finish his call.
He wasn't paying attention to where exactly he pulled over, but it was by a park-and-pay lot on Commerce Street near La Branch or Austin.
A homeless man came up to his window and gave a hard-luck story about being from Dallas and being down on his luck, but Snider motioned that he was on the phone. The dude moved along to some passers-by, then circled back to Snider.
"I looked down and I had 75 cents sitting in my cupholder," Snider tells Hair Balls. He gave it to the dude, shook his hand, rolled up his window and found his way to I-10.
Near the Washington exit, Snider says, a cop car pulled up behind him and threw on the siren and lights. Snider says he drove a little further -- to near the I-10/610 interchange -- to find a safe spot to pull over. This was probably a mistake, as it apparently frustrated the officer.
"He comes up to the car all aggressively and starts yelling at me to get out," Snider says. "...he's cursing, he's yelling at me to get out of the car and put my hands on the hood."
Here's where Snider made his next mistake: He first refused to get out of the car, telling the officer he had no clue why he was being pulled over. That's when, according to Snider, the officer pulled him out of his car by his arm.
Snider says the officer told him, "You have the whole Houston narcotics team on your ass right now." By this time, Snider says, about seven police cars -- patrol, as well as unmarked -- arrived. He estimates between ten and 12 officers were on the scene.
"They're telling me they know what I did, I should know what I did," Snider says. An undercover officer yelled at him for not pulling over sooner, and explained, "We saw you back there doing a drug deal." (The undercover officers split after about ten minutes, Snider says.)
Snider was cuffed and put into the back of one of the cars. He says he repeatedly asked why he was being detained, but the officer sitting behind the wheel ignored him.
When a K-9 unit arrived, Snider gave permission for them to search his car. At first, Snider says, the dog was eager -- the dog was jumping up and pawing the vehicle, scratching the paint. But once inside, Snider says, "The dog was clearly not interested in my car...The dog would jump out, and they would push him back in."
After searching the interior and the truck, the officers then frisked Snider, who was still asking what was going on. He says one of the officers told him, "I'll have somebody...explain everything to you when we're done with the paperwork, when we're done with everything." After about an hour, Snider says, an officer told him it'd been a "big misunderstanding." The officer allegedly told Snider that narcotics officers were conducting a sting downtown, and they believed that they saw Snider "transfer drugs to a homeless man..."
The officer said the narcotics officers were just doing their jobs, but Snider, who wasn't charged with anything, disagrees.
"If you were doing your job, you would have found drugs on somebody -- because that's your job. Your job is to do your job properly," Snider says. Wouldn't the officers on the so-called sting "clearly see [that] this homeless man has been walking around while I'm sitting in my car talking on the phone, to other people, panhandling"?
Snider also asks, "Why did it take them all the way until Washington and I-10 and 610...why didn't they stop me before I left downtown, you know?
So what does one do about a drug dog's scratch marks on one's car? If Snider's experience is an accurate representation, then here's what one does: Bend over. 'Cause that shit ain't gettin' fixed, yo.
Snider says he went to an HPD substation to file a complaint and see if something could be done about the scratches. The officer told Snider that the complaint process took 90 days. He says he asked the officer if the officer wanted to photograph the scratches, but the guy clearly had better things to do. When Snider explained his dismay, he says the officer folded his arms and sarcastically told him, "Well, on behalf of HPD officers, we want to say we're sorry."
Snider says he then tried to get an incident number from HPD to attach to his complaint, but was told he couldn't get this information since he was the "suspect." When we called an HPD spokesman to see if we could get an incident number, or frankly any sort of confirmation of what went down, the spokesman complained that we weren't giving him much to go on. After all, Snider didn't have an exact address of where he gave the homeless guy the spare change. (Note: It turns out that you should always jot down the exact address -- perhaps even the GPS coordinates -- any time you make a temporary stop, just in case you later get pulled over for allegedly dealing drugs and then need to file a complaint. They'll need that exact address, bro.)
The HPD spokesman, Victor Senties, was unable to find anything about this incident when we called on January 10. He also hadn't turned up anything the morning of January 13. There was apparently no trace of this incident ever taking place. No trace of Snider's name.
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Yet remarkably, shortly after Snider told us he filed his complaint with Internal Affairs Monday, Senties was able to find a record of that complaint. Why he couldn't find Snider's name in relation to the traffic stop and K-9 Unit activity after a day and a half, but was able to learn about Snider's IA complaint in a matter of hours is beyond our mortal understanding.
Senties told us that, since a complaint had been filed, he was unable to tell us anything else.
Snider says he was told he'd receive the results of the investigation into his complaint in 180 days. We have a sneaking suspicion what those results will be.
But even more than that, Snider says he felt humiliated, harassed and embarrassed. Here he'd simply given a homeless guy some change, and the next thing he knows, the cops think he's freaking Tony Montana. We really hope HPD can clarify things for us -- and for Snider.