By JAMES PINKERTON HOUSTON CHRONICLE
May 6, 2009, 6:26PM
A veteran lieutenant with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has been fired for leading a squad of deputies to investigate a $16 theft from his wife’s car at an Humble carwash last year, the department confirmed Wednesday.
Lt. Louis Guthrie, a 17-year veteran of the department, was fired Tuesday for official oppression, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Keir Murray said.
Murray said Guthrie’s dismissal was the result of the department’s investigation of an incident in July when Guthrie and a number of deputies shut down a carwash after Guthrie’s wife complained that $16 was stolen from her vehicle.
The business, on FM 1960 in Humble, was cordoned off with crime scene tape and closed for an hour as Guthrie and deputies questioned employees about the theft.
“Based on the report I’ve read, his behavior regarding this incident was clearly a violation of sheriff’s policies. He was fired for official oppression,” Murray said. “His conduct in conducting an investigation inappropriately resulted in the termination.”
Guthrie, who joined the department in October 1991, has 15 days to file a written response to his termination under civil service rules, Murray said. At the time of his termination, the lieutenant had been assigned to the detention bureau.
He plans to appeal
Guthrie was out of town and not available for comment Wednesday, his lawyer said.
“He was fired, and we’re in the process of making an appeal to the sheriff,” said Guthrie’s lawyer, Earl Musick. “We don’t believe he should have been fired.”
Musick said he hoped Sheriff Adrian Garcia “keeps an open mind” in reviewing the appeal.
“You have an individual like Louis Guthrie, who has been in the sheriff’s department for 17 years, and he has excelled and gone up through the ranks,” Musick noted. “During those years, he’s had a pretty clean record. Sometimes people make mistakes, and punishment can be harsh. But until we get a chance to look at the entire investigation, I would hate to make any comments.”
Last year, immigration activists were angered by Guthrie’s appearance at protests at a day labor site in Spring, where the officer pledged to bring local law enforcement into efforts to detain and deport illegal immigrants.
At the time, Guthrie was a candidate for constable in the Republican primary. He lost to incumbent Ron Hickman.
Click to view image: 'd11a341c8735-sheriff.jpg'
|Liveleak on Facebook|