HOUSTON- A grand jury has indicted a Houston police officer for aggravated assault by a public servant. The incident happened in November of 2017 when HPD officer Shane Privette was trying to arrest a man named Dwayne Walker on drug charges. The whole encounter happened in a gas station parking lot.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office says that Officer Privette allegedly kneed Walker in the face during the ordeal.
The Houston Police Officer’s Union is calling the indictment "highly questionable" and saying the officer did nothing wrong.
The union president says that Walker was resisting arrest, had tried to run away from the officer and was ignoring verbal commands leading up to Privette allegedly kneeing Walker in the face.
Privette is charged with a first-degree felony. The case is being prosecuted by the Civil Rights Division of the Harris County DA’s Office.
Michael Harrison, a prosecutor for the Civil Rights Division of the Harris County DA’s Office said, “This case came to us through internal affairs of HPD. The process with the civil rights division is a case comes to us and then it’s our duty to present the case to a grand jury. That happened yesterday (Wednesday) and they made the decision to return an indictment."
Harrison went on to explain “At the end of the day, the process with HPD is per their handbook. They are subject to the handbook, we hold officers accountable to the constitution and the laws of the state of Texas.”
The Houston Police Officer’s Union says that Officer Privette did exactly what he was supposed to do in the situation.
“The knee strikes that Officer Privette utilized to gain control of the suspect are approved and trained by the Houston Police Department. They are acceptable within Department procedures, training protocols, and guidelines," explained Joe Gamaldi, the president of the Houston Police Officers' Union.
Gamaldi also said an independent oversight board has cleared Privette of doing anything wrong.
“Here we have an officer who is attempting to arrest a violent drug dealer who has a parole warrant who is resisting arrest. He uses strikes that are lawful within department policy and he did exactly as his training would dictate.”
He went on to say he thinks the case against Privette will be dismissed and if it does to go trial, he feels confident the officer's name will be cleared.
HPD released a statement following the indictment saying they immediately relieved Officer Privette of duty pending the ongoing investigation.