- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

HOUSTON (AP) - The misconduct of a former Houston homicide detective allowed suspected killers to walk free and may have damaged the credibility of the police department, said an independent arbitrator, who upheld the officer’s firing.

Police Chief Charles McClelland fired Sgt. Ryan Chandler in April for entering false information on an official report. Chandler appealed his termination, saying during an arbitration hearing last year that he was overworked and assigned a high number of cases that were “too heavy for me to keep up with.”

Arbitrator Lynne Gomez’s report upholding Chandler’s termination was released Thursday to the Houston Chronicle (https://bit.ly/1zYtaOP ) through an open records request. In it, Gomez wrote that “the full impact of (Chandler’s) misconduct may never be known, but the evidence demonstrated that it’s allowed murderers to remain on the streets; caused unnecessary frustration and heartache to the families of victims; and led Houston’s citizens to question the department’s integrity.”

A police union attorney representing Chandler declined to comment to KHOU-TV on Wednesday, a day after Gomez announced her decision, saying he hadn’t yet spoken to his client. He did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment from The Associated Press.

McClelland welcomed the arbitrator’s decision upholding the firing, a spokesman for the police chief told the newspaper.

Gomez wrote that evidence and testimony from a dozen witnesses during an arbitration hearing showed there wasn’t any credible evidence that Chandler was assigned a greater number of cases than other detectives in the homicide division.

Evidence also showed Chandler failed to perform basic investigative tasks, such as visiting crime scenes, canvassing the area and interviewing witnesses, Gomez said. He also didn’t consult with the district attorney on filing charges and didn’t follow up on tips, she said.

“Other evidence demonstrated that known suspects had avoided arrest - one had died and another fled to a foreign country - due to (Chandler’s) delays and inattention to his duties,” the report states.

When Harris was fired, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office referred the criminal case against Chandler to Montgomery County prosecutors. They cited a conflict because they employed Chandler’s fiancee.

Montgomery County prosecutors said the conduct did not rise to a criminal offense, and the matter was not presented to a grand jury.

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Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com

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