Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Another Bad Apple at the Austin Police Department is Fired

In May, Austin police officer, Cpl. Richard Munoz, was fired by then-Police Chief Stan Knee after Munoz was accused of choking a handcuffed 15-year-old boy Nov. 11, at a trailer park, according to a police memo.
Munoz also investigated a separate incident at the park that day involving a teenager said to have been sexually preying on children but did not file the report properly, giving the attacker time to assault someone else, the memo said.
Munoz has appealed the firing.
Munoz has been with the department for almost 11 years. He was suspended temporarily three times before, according to city records. Those suspensions involved participating during work hours in an online chat room where he called himself “worstkindaman,” not reporting crimes and filing late crime reports, according to the records.
The department declined to comment Wednesday about Munoz’s firing May 3.
Details about what had happened emerged from the police disciplinary memo:
Munoz was called to the trailer park, whose address was removed from the report, because a 15-year-old boy was refusing to obey his mother.
Munoz arrested the boy and his 12-year-old cousin for not being in school but then realized that it was a school holiday.
He released the 12-year-old but kept the 15-year-old in handcuffs while he investigated the original disturbance call. Munoz got angry with the way the 15-year-old was acting, so he grabbed him by the face and neck, according to the memo. Four people, including the boy, said the teenager’s face became red and “his breathing inhibited due to being choked.”
While Munoz was at the trailer park, someone told him that another teenager there had fondled four children, including the handcuffed 15-year-old.
Munoz talked to the fondling suspect but did not contact the teenager’s parents. He also did not interview one of the alleged victims or get any information identifying the victim.
When Munoz later wrote a report about the incident, he did not put the right title on it so that it could be forwarded to the child abuse unit, according to the disciplinary memo. By the time internal affairs investigators discovered the mistake, “another child was allegedly assaulted,” the memo said.
After they got the report, child abuse investigators arrested the suspect and charged him with indecency with a child.
Internal affairs investigators also questioned Munoz about the choking incident at the trailer park, the memo said.
Munoz denied that he had put his hands around the teenager’s face or neck but later admitted doing so after taking a polygraph test, according to the memo.
The videotape in Munoz’s patrol car recorded the officer saying to the boy, “You aren’t man enough, do you understand me?” according to the memo.
Munoz had been suspended in 2005 and twice in 1998. His one-day suspension in 2005 was for his chat room participation during work hours, according to a police memo.
Munoz was suspended for two days in 1998 because as he was arresting an intoxicated bicyclist, another man left with the man’s bicycle and belongings, and Munoz never reported the theft, according to the police memo.
Munoz also didn’t get approval from a supervisor before having the arrested man booked into jail, the memo said.
Munoz was suspended again in 1998 for one day for two separate incidents. In the first incident, he told someone who complained that a vehicle had left the scene of a collision that he couldn’t take a report because the police computer system was down, a memo said. Munoz never wrote a report.
In the second incident, Munoz turned in a report five days late about a collision involving a pedestrian and a car, the memo said.