A Houston Community College police officer, who in the past haspublicly criticized
the campus' police department, is being accused of falsifying an arrest report which resulted in a student being indicted for a felony.
Records filed Monday in Harris County District Court indicate that officer John Portillo has been charged with tampering with a governmental record.
According to the criminal complaint, Portillo wrote in his arrest report that on the night of July 27, he instructed a student to stop, but that the student ran away. Portillo then reported that the student jumped into a van and fled, while Portillo was yelling at him to stand still. Soon after, the officer arrested the student on the felony charge of evading arrest. In September, a Harris County grand jury indicted the student, 22-year-old Joshua Murray.
However, according to court records, an HCC internal investigation discovered that Portillo lied about the student running away. In their report, investigators say they reviewed surveillance video of the incident, and determined that "the suspect did not run away from the building and was not chased by police officers."
Additionally, several of Portillo's fellow officers who were there that night claim they did not hear Portillo ever command the student to stop or see the van flee.
Portillo "documented in [his] report probable cause to arrest Joshua Murray for evading arrest in a motor car, which did not occur," states the criminal complaint against Portillo. "The defendant's actions were done with the intent to defraud and harm another."
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Murray tells Hair Balls that he knew he was innocent all along but did not make a public stink about it for fear of losing his job with the federal government.
However, he says, "Since it's been brought to light that I've been falsely accused and it's all a fabrication, this should be made into a big spectacle, because it was unfair. This has effected my livelihood, my job, I pay for school out of my pocket. What if my job fired me? What if I got expelled from school? What if I had a permanent felony on my record? It's unfair."
Earlier this year, Portillo was one of the few HCC officers willing to put his neck on the line and publicly criticize the department and some of its policies. In a signed letter to a college administrator, he denounced the college's tactical team and the lack of Tasers and access to other lesser means of force.
Ironically, Portillo wrote that HCC officers are so poorly trained that they cannot do the simplest of police tasks, such as filing charges against a suspect.