Saturday, May 17, 2008

Valor Redefined

One day you're a hero, the next you're a goat.

Austin PD Officer Roger Boudreau was given the Medal of Valor after what he described as a dramatic shootout last year with David Lozano during a domestic disturbance call.

Lozano was sitting in the Travis County Jail charged with attempted capital murder until May 2 when he was released on a personal bond. The DA's office says charges will likely be dropped. Reported the Austin Statesman ("Charges in police shootout likely to be dropped, prosecutor says," May 17):

At the time, Boudreau said Lozano fired first; now, Lozano's attorney, Ryan Deck, says new evidence shows the officer fired first.

An expert hired by Deck last month reported that Boudreau's account appeared to be inconsistent with an audio recording from his patrol car.

The Travis County district attorney's office had another expert examine the recording, and inconsistencies with what prosecutors believed was the sequence of events that night were found, Assistant District Attorney Karen Sage said. She would not elaborate on what those inconsistencies were but said they centered on the number of shots fired.

"Based on the results of their tests, it made us question the sequence of events," Sage said. "Based on that fact, the trial was set to go May 12, and we asked for a continuance. We also allowed the defendant to be let out" on a personal bond.

After about 13 months in jail, Lozano, who was shot three times and lost part of one leg, was released on May 2.

Getting the Medal of Valor for a "defensive" shooting where you ripped off the first shot and lied about it reminds me of Officer Tom Coleman from the Tulia scandal being named Texas' Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by then Attorney General John Cornyn. It turned out Coleman perjured himself in the cases he was honored for, and more than three dozen people were later pardoned by Gov. Rick Perry.

Look, mistakes happen. A domestic disturbance call can be a dangerous situation, and clearly Mr. Lozano had a gun. But lying about what happened afterward is a different kettle of fish. And accepting the Medal of Valor for the lie is just plain over the top.

Sometimes heroic stories that sound too good to be true turn out to be ... well ... too good to be true.

16 comments:

Stephen said...

I've had a number of times I've disliked Perry, but I can say I'm pleased about the pardons.

Michael said...

I totally missed the part of this story where Boudreau lied. Can you point it out for me, Grits?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Boudreau said the other guy fired first. Actually, he did.

s said...

that wouldn't have stopped the Harris Co. DA's Office from prosecuting.

Christoph said...

He should resign.

Anonymous said...

I've always been a little confused....this guy was held for 13 months....but NOT imprisoned at the same level and in the same facility as someone who had been to trial and been found GUILTY...correct? He was innocent until proven guilty. so surely he was not incarcerated with guilty folks being punished. If he WAS held in the same facility and at the same level of security, then why are folks who are presumed innocent and untried being PUNISHED? To coerce a guilty plea bargain perhaps?

I'm all for punishing guilty folks. But this guy hadn't been found guilty of anything....and now after 13 months, they let him out? And he served 13 months with folks who had been found guilty while he himself was innocent?

W. W Woodward said...

Grits, You stated, “Boudreau said the other guy fired first. Actually, he did.”

Grits, “actually”? Actually, the defendant’s attorney’s expert says after examining the audio of the incident he believes the officer fired first.

The Austin Statesman’s article says, “An expert hired by Deck last month reported that Boudreau's account appeared to be inconsistent with an audio recording from his patrol car.” Also, “At the time, Boudreau said Lozano fired first; now, Lozano's attorney, Ryan Deck, says new evidence shows the officer fired first.”

Texas law does not require one to allow his opponent the first shot in a deadly force situation and the officer may very well have fired the first shot once he reasonably believed Lozano was attempting to use deadly force against him. Boudreau may actually believe Lozano fired first even if the contrary is proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Both Boudreau and Lozano were making split-second life and death decisions in the dark with limited information as to their assailant’s ability or identity.

The Statesman article does not indicate if any verbal conversation was recorded or if the sound of a semi-auto pistol being charged before Lozano opened the door was detected.

Does anyone know if the Austin PD does a post shooting incident Q&A. If so, did the investigators (Internal Affairs) review the patrol car tape? Is there any indication as to whether the DA’s office reviewed the tape prior to Grand Jury. Was Boudreau possibly locked into an incorrect statement by investigators too soon after the shooting incident and before he had an opportunity to calm down and mentally go over what actually occurred?

Please be careful about calling a man a liar when he may only be mistaken. Shooting at and being shot at is an extremely stressful situation and not only will one be second guessed by the public, and the media, but one will also second guess one's self.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Woody, I know these can be tense situations, but do you really think he's "mistaken" about who pulled the trigger first? He was there, he fired the first shot. How could he not have known?

I agree the law does not require him to wait for the other guy to shoot first. If he'd accurately described what happened from the get go, the DA likely wouldn't be dropping charges. "He made a furtive motion" would have been plenty. But instead the officer told a story that forensics disproved, portraying himself more heroically, and the incident as more cut and dried than it really was.

Second guessing oneself when you followed the rules is one thing, and officers in that situation deserve sympathy. Describing an incident falsely in a way that gets somebody charged with "attempted capital murder," to be frank, in my book deserves some second guessing. Whether by mistake or mendacity, the guy nearly manufactured a conviction based on false police testimony. That's no small thing.

Anonymous said...

All of this is dependent upon the same technology, albeit enhanced over the years, from years ago that claims that there were multiple shots fired at JFK from different locales at Dealey Plaza. Even with that "scientific evidence", there still exists much dispute over the issue of whether LHO acted alone.

What this evidence means is that the DA cannot get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt. I'd be pissed if I were the officer, being called a liar by a bunch of machine programs.

Grits, if you had a hair on your ass you'd go be a cop for a year, and then I bet your tirades against the evil police would stop.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

On the "same technology" as Dealey Plaza stuff, that's pure BS. Just a lie. If you "had a hair on your ass," 9:42, you'd put your name on false public statements instead of hide behind anonymous blog comments like a coward.

Look, people I'm not the one who said the officer's testimony wasn't the truth. Blame the forensic analysts hired by the defense and the DA, not me, if you don't like the facts they've presented.

He said one thing, science proved another. The facts speak for themselves.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You know, I bet people who give eyewitness testimony that wrongfully convicts innocent people feel just as angry when DNA says they're wrong. It doesn't make their identification accurate.

Maybe Woody's right. Maybe it's possible for the officer to fire first then convince himself in the post-traumatic moment that something else really happened. I suppose that's possible and I can't know the guy's mind, except to know that science proved his statement about the event wasn't true.

sunray's wench said...

to anon 7.19 ~ those awaiting trial are held in County jails, along with others serving short sentences. You dont go to a TDCJ facility until after your trial. From what I've heard of county jails, they are the last place anyone would want to spend more than 5 minutes, guilty or not.

W. W Woodward said...

I have a problem with the Austin PD awarding a medal of valor to an officer who was apparently shooting to protect his own life. Had he placed himself into danger and gotten into a shootout in order to protect a citizen or another officer from the unlawful use of deadly force I feel the medal would have been appropriate. Of course I don’t know all the details of the shooting incident – just what I read in the paper.

Hanging the title of “Hero” on a man is sometimes the worst thing an agency can do to him.

I don’t know if this is the case, but consider:

When the dust cleared and a couple of days after the original statements and reports were written and Officer Boudreau started taking a second and third look at what happened that night he may have gone to his 1st line supervisor and expressed doubts as to what happened and may have been convinced by someone else of the “facts” and to let the record stand as originally reported. “You were in a stress situation.” “There’s no way you can remember everything exactly as it happened.” “When you testify in court all you have to do is refer to the report you wrote.” “That sumbitch was trying to kill you. You did what you had to do.” “I’m putting you in line for a medal. You’re a hero, man.”

It’s hard to judge a man’s actions unless you’re standing in his shoes. Of course, the same could be said about Lozano’s actions that night. When did Lozano realize he had been trading shots with a police officer and once he did realize the other guy was an officer, and not the wife’s ex-boy friend, what action did he take? Were words exchanged between Boudreau and Lozano prior to and/or during the incident?

Of course, I could be wrong. (Apologies to Dennis Miller)

rage said...

Grits:

Lately you seem to be drawing a lot of fire from people who are apparently cops, or DA's, or who blindly think that those two groups can do no wrong.

Don't get frustrated by it. Take it as a sign that they're reading, and probably threatened that their shenanigans are coming to light. Sure, you're not the biggest media outlet, and you know your place in the larger picture, but you gather the stories well and present your side clearly. That's what they're afraid of, and they're relegated to taking anonymous shots at you. Just think, in Harris County, you're probably their only outlet to vent their frustrations now that they can't sent racially charged jokes to Rosenthal or Siegler any more.

It's sad, actually, that they can't stand a little light shining on their practices.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Lately you seem to be drawing a lot of fire from people who are apparently cops, or DA's"

Lately?!! Welcome to my world, rage! :)

Anonymous said...

As the investigator working for Lozano and his attorney I can tell you that at no time did the officer announce he was a police officer, Testimony was given a year ago with evidence the the officer fired first. It was dark and the officer after slapping on the door chose to get off the porch and was between the houses in complete darkness.
When Lozano exited his door thinking it was the boyfriend that was calling making phone threats exited the front door he was shot twice once in the forearm and once4 thru the abdomen, Boudreau then ran behind Lozanos house where he fired at lozano again. I believe Boudreau fired 8 rounds Lozano had 3 rounds and fire back at the muzzle shots he saw coming from the back of his house. Lozano can be heard on the tape saying call 911 I have been hit, he was hit in the leg and the bone shattered. then crawled on his stomach into the house locked the door and called 911 for help naming the boyfriend as the shooter. At no time did the officer even with Lozano disabled crawling inside ever identify himself.
The boyfriend had made repeated calls to apd first stating he heard a family disturbance over the phone then called back to say Lozano was high on marijuana and heavily armed! Yet Boudreau parked his car acrooss the street a couple house down no lights on started his in car recorder not waiting for backing up knowing there was a possible volitile situation and proceeded the the house to make contact never identify himself.
Then to make matters worse 911 was on the phone with Lozano trying to get help and on another channel they were preparing to swarm the house when at the instruction of 911 Lozano crawled outside expecting an ambulance and police to help him but was arrested. He did not find out a police officer was involved in the shooting until he came out of recovery having his leg amputated.
comments also show that CLEAT was contacted and he talked to them before being interviewed. Fortunate for Lozano that he lived to tell his side and had someone that believed in him.
Lozanos wife had a restraining order placed against the boyfriend which he violated several times including coming to the same residence where the shooting occurred and breaking the door down to gain access!
Given the castle law that is now in effect, Lozanos actions could not be questioned.
Lester Johnson