Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
BYLINE: Deanna Boyd;
Fort Worth, TX
FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth police officer has been fired for falsifying a report to cover up for his loss of a suspect's wallet, then asking another officer to go along with his fabricated story.
Officer Patrick Hughes, who had been with the department since 2007, filed an appeal on Friday.
The indefinite suspension, which went into effect on Thursday, stemmed from a November 2009 traffic stop in which two men were arrested for outstanding warrants.
According to a letter filed with the Civil Service Commission, Hughes had placed the wallet of one of the men on top of his patrol unit, then failed to retrieve it and drove away from the scene.
The wallet fell from the car and was discovered by an unknown citizen. It was eventually turned over to other officers, who contacted Hughes. Hughes submitted the wallet to the police property room and generated a report claiming it had been discovered in the back seat of the patrol car, the letter states.
During a subsequent investigation into the lost wallet, Hughes contacted another officer, stating his plans to report that the wallet had been found in the car after the suspect had been taken to jail. He asked that officer not to tell the truth.
"At some point, Officer Hughes approached a supervisor and admitted he had lied about where the wallet was found in the report because he was scared he would get into trouble," the letter, signed by Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, states.
Craig Driskell, Hughes' attorney with the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, said Hughes is a former Marine who graduated in the top of his police academy class and was a top-producing officer for his shift.
"He just made one mistake," Driskell said. "He's never been in trouble before. We just feel that the punishment is excessive."
Lt. Paul Henderson, a police spokesman, said that the case could have had a very different outcome if Hughes had just reported the truth.
"Had Hughes simply admitted that he made a mistake and that he lost property, he could have been coached, counseled, retrained and maybe faced minor disciplinary action," Henderson said. "But when he lied about it, he no longer carried any credibility with this department or with the residents of the city."
DEANNA BOYD, 817-390-7655
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
International Association for Property and Evidence
"Law Enforcement Serving the Needs of Law Enforcement"