Update on Status of Former Employee

December 11, 2007 - A Harris County grand jury today (Dec. 11) indicted a former criminalist who resigned on October 12, 2007 following an internal investigation into allegations he failed to properly secure evidence.

James K. Carpenter (w/m, DOB: 8-18-69) is indicted on two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of aggregate theft by a public servant in the 174th State District Court.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt called for the former employee to receive the harshest punishment available by law. “This individual betrayed the HPD and the public’s trust as well as the integrity and image of our Crime Lab,” said Chief Hurtt. “We invested a lot of money and training in this former employee and his actions are harmful to all the hard work and effort our current employees are striving to achieve. The findings of our internal investigation and the subsequent indictments show this conduct will not be tolerated under any circumstances,” Chief Hurtt said.

An Internal Affairs Division investigation was initiated on August 3, 2007 due to Carpenter’s failure to properly secure controlled substance evidence. The police department notified the Harris County District Attorney’s office and ASCLD-LAB (American Society of Crime Lab Directors-Laboratory Accreditation Board), which granted the Crime Lab its accreditation.

Carpenter, who was hired in October 2002, routinely worked in the Controlled Substances Section of the Crime Lab. He had been counseled about poor attendance which Carpenter attributed to a back problem. He was noted to have evidence at his work site that was not being handled in compliance with Lab protocols. On August 3, the Internal Affairs Division was immediately called to the lab where Carpenter refused to give a formal statement or submit to an ordered drug test. He was then immediately removed from the Crime Lab.

Crime Lab Director Irma Rios stated there was no indication of improper behavior until August 2007. However, as a precaution, all of Carpenter’s work for the prior six months was reviewed (approximately 200 narcotics cases). All retests on those cases have been completed and the results have been sent to the District Attorney’s office.

Update: 12-11-07

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.