MPD Releases Details of Internal Investigations, Documents Show Competition to Take Signs From Homeless 2/20/14
MIDLAND-The City of Midland released details late this afternoon regarding an internal investigation into Officers Derek Hester and Daniel Zoelzer.
The investigation alleges a competition between two officers to collect the most homemade signs from homeless people.
According to the documents, Internal Affairs noted that both were in violation of MPD's general orders. The investigation came after a complaint by Officer Jaren Speck originating in November 2013.
According to Speck's complaint, Officer Hester had "collectibles" in his trunk including signs taken from homeless people and a pair of brass knuckles.
After a vehicle inspection, the report states that eight homemade signs and an undocumented pair of brass knuckles were found. The brass knuckles were confiscated and never logged as evidence from a previous incident.
According to the findings summary of the investigation, "Officer Zoelzer threw away approximately 10 signs after Officer Hester called to warn him that he had gotten in trouble for having the signs in his trunk."
Two knives were also discovered in Officer Zoelzer's patrol vehicle, one of which may have been taken from a homeless person.
Both officers were placed on three days unpaid administrative leave on two violations of General Orders:
1)Property and Evidence Handling
2) Professional Standards of Conduct
MPD's Police Chief Price Robinson released a statement:
"The Midland Police Department does not condone this type of behavior. Public trust is of the utmost importance to us. Our personnel acted swiftly to report these isolated incidents, which I believe reflects the culture of accountability we have within the department. Our actions and relationships are guided by an internal sense of honesty and morality, and we are commuted to respecting the individual rights and human dignity of all members of the community. All of our patrol officers were addresses by their supervisors after this incident to reiterate the importance of these core values as well as proper protocol for property and evidence handling."