Odessa American Uncovers Odessa Police Officers' Misconduct, Suspensions & Firing 2/1/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
February 1, 2013
ODESSA, TX - After a yearlong investigation, our partners at the Odessa American newspaper discovered misconduct, a firing and multiple suspensions of an Odessa Police Departmentís task force.
Odessa American Reporter Jon Vanderlaan stated that the discovery started with a tip, which opened the door on misbehavior of multiple Odessa police officers.
The investigation started a year ago, when Vanderlaan began connecting the dots on an Odessa police officerís termination.
"We did discover that there was an investigation into a group of officers for misconduct and we had known that one officer was fired," said Odessa American Reporter Jon Vanderlaan.
Through hundreds of documents obtained by the Odessa American, including disciplinary reports and personnel files, Vanderlaan learned that the Odessa Police Department's guns and gangs shooting task force was reprimanded for an incident involving a March arrest of two men.
"There was one firing and several other reprimands for violations of standard operating procedures. There were accusations of untruthfulness on two other officers that were not sustained by the chief," said Vanderlaan.
According to documents the OA received, OPDís internal affairs unit began examining the task force when an officer turned off the camera during an ongoing arrest.
"The incident was a combination of a number of things including a pursuit that wasn't documented, a use of force that wasn't documented, and a turning off of a microphone and camera; when there was no stated reason to turn off that microphone and camera in a marked police unit," said Vanderlaan.
Vanderlaan stated the department originally fought him having the documents.
"The Odessa Police Department from the beginning had requested an attorney generalís opinion on many of the documents I received and ultimately the attorney general sided with us," he said.
After receiving the paperwork he noticed more than 300 pages were missing. These were pages that included all the information on the March 13th incident.
Vanderlaan did receive the documentation soon after, which then connected a police officer's firing to the suspensions and the March 13th arrests.
The OA will release full information regarding the misconduct of the task force in Sundayís paper.
There will be much more information than we were able to release today.
In the article, the Odessa American will have the names of officers involved and details into multiple issues with the unit. Click here for the Odessa American website