Yesterday, a jury found a former Harris County Precinct 6 constable who decided to shoot a woman in the head during an extreme road-rage episode guilty of aggravated assault. That former cop, Kenneth Caplan, faces up to 20 years in prison.
Back in 2014, Caplan was off duty and driving with his wife when a 24-year-old woman named Lori Annab cut him off, as he claims. So, in response, Caplan pulled up next to her, asked his wife to lean back in her seat, then pointed his gun at Annab and shot her. Though struck in the head, Annab managed to pull over and call 911, and ultimately survived the near-fatal injury.
At the time, Caplan was on leave from Precinct 6 for another road-rage incident.
In an interview with the Houston Press in January, Caplan told us that shooting the woman was not intentional, but if it were, it still would have been justified because Annab was driving “aggressively.” He said that, actually, Annab was not the victim, but was trying to wipe out him and his wife by slamming on her brakes in front of them intentionally, and should be the one prosecuted for aggravated assault instead.
Explaining why he is innocent, he said: “What I did was more than legal. I had every right…I don't bullshit anybody; I'm not the kind of person to lie. And I'm going to tell you this: If I really tried to kill this woman in cold blood, I wouldn't be saying anything to anybody. My mouth would have been shut from the very beginning; I would've said 'lawyer,' and that would have been the end of it. I tried to explain to the detectives…they would not believe it…I'm a fellow fucking police officer. What the hell is wrong with these people?”
Annab has also sued in civil court — and not only are Caplan and Harris County named, but so is the psychologist who signed off on letting Caplan become a cop, who pled guilty to tampering with government records just last week. Specifically, tampering with mental health evaluations of peace officers.
Even though Caplan told us that he suffered from PTSD and had childhood onset of bipolar disorder after growing up in an abusive family, when Dr. Carole Busick examined him in May 2012, her conclusion was that he would “approach problems in a cool and dispassionate manner" and put facts over emotion, and that he was mentally fit for duty. As Annab's lawsuit claims, Busick should have noticed red flags about Caplan even before she “purportedly” examined him: Not only was he fired from 12 of the 21 jobs he held in five years, but he was also kicked out of a law enforcement academy for acting hostile toward teammates, ignoring safety standards during traffic stops, jumping the chain of command multiple times, and lying.
Caplan, who was on psychiatric medication for a mood disorder when Busick evaluated him, told us he lied during that evaluation too, saying, "I am more than smart enough to fool any test.”
Both Busick and her husband, Don Busick, also a psychologist, came under fire last year for failing to properly evaluate and screen thousands of peace officers. They had apparently been skipping face-to-face evaluations with the peace officer candidates, which are required by law. Last week, each pled to ten years of deferred adjudication and each of them will pay more than $8,700 to four police agencies that have had to retest dozens of officers. They will also retire and give up their licenses.
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Despite the fact that the Busicks' questionable evaluations have been public for months, a recent Houston Chronicle investigation found that only a fraction of officers have been re-screened.
According to the Chron, the investigation was prompted by a tip from a peace officer who had once been evaluated by the Busicks, who wrote in a complaint:
"I'm not sure this was a real 'evaluation.' I wondered if my experience means there are some…deputies out there carrying weapons who had similar 'evaluations' as mine? If so, could there be some crazy deputies in Houston carrying weapons?"
Sounds like his gut feeling was right.