Former officer Kenneth Troost said he pulled over Amy Charron because she failed to use her turn signal, was driving drunk, failed a field sobriety test and refused to consent to a blood test.
Troost also said his dashboard camera didn't record the traffic stop.
Now, though, prosecutors and Charron's own defense attorney say all of the above are lies.
Troost, a ten-year veteran of the force, wore blue for the last time Friday. He resigned from the Houston Police Department after he was indicted earlier this month on two felony charges of tampering with government records, in Charron's case and another DWI case, as KTRK first reported.
Turns out an investigation launched by the Harris County District Attorney's Office found that, actually, there was dash-cam footage — and Charron didn't “fail to signal a lane change” as Troost claimed. Her attorney, Diana Sims, believes Troost lied about the footage because he knew it would prove he had no probable cause to arrest Charron, because she wasn't drunk and passed the field test. According to toxicology records from the Houston Forensic Science Center, provided by Sims, Charron's blood-alcohol level was only .06. Prosecutors dismissed the charges three months later.
“Not only does she feel like a victim, completely targeted, but it was not even a paperwork error,” Sims said. “She was not even intoxicated to begin with.”
In the second case, prosecutors claim Troost wrote in an affidavit stating he was at the scene of a DWI arrest and conducted a field sobriety test on the side of the road — when, in truth, he was 25 miles away at the police station. In reality, a different officer arrested Tomur Barnes and hauled him in, with Troost examining Barnes, then writing up the offense report as though he had been involved all along.
The attorney for the man suspected of the DWI wasn't available to talk Friday, but referred us to Sims, who is also familiar with the case. Sims said what's troubling is that, because of the misrepresentation, it's unclear if the arresting officer actually conducted any field test himself — and if he did not, then there would have been no probable cause to arrest Barnes. As with Charron, the case was ultimately dismissed.
But Troost's attorney, Nicole DeBorde, says that the case against Troost is a mistake — that Troost simply made a few paperwork errors. She suspects prosecutors are combing through every DWI offense report that Troost has ever filed (we checked with the DA's office; they are), and suspects more “mistakes” will sprout up here and there.
“People make mistakes. That's just human nature,” DeBorde said. “We think what we have here are examples of clerical errors in these documents.”
Sims questioned how one could make a clerical error by claiming to be on the side of the road making an arrest when he actually was never there. "That's not a typo," Sims said.
These “errors,” she said, cost both Charron and Barnes thousands of dollars. Because Troost reported to the Texas Department of Public Safety that Charron refused a blood test, the state suspended her license for six months — though other police records show she did give consent. Even though she was barred from driving, a judge still ordered Charron to purchase an interlock device. Plus, she had to submit to random drug and alcohol testing.
"You would think in HPD there would be some checks and balances that would prevent this type of activity, if you're having one rogue officer doing it," Sims said. But I believe that he's been doing it for a long time. He was so good at it that it wasn't until I understood what he was doing that I could go back to offense reports and see inconsistencies I would never know to look for."
The DA's Office has put out a notice to the entire defense bar, a spokesman told us — indicating that, if attorneys' clients have ever been arrested by Kenneth Troost, they may want to take a closer look at those cases.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.