Police Chief Testifies In Hearing For Suspect Shot By Police
POSTED: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 5:22pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 11, 2011 - 3:48pm
EL PASO - 41-year-old Hector Piedra is accused of fleeing a domestic disturbance and then pointing a gun at officers. Today Piedra's attorneys called Police Chief Greg Allen himself to the stand to testify - not about the shooting, but about the actions his department has taken since.
Officers shot Piedra in the stomach and thigh after he allegedly pointed a gun at them. Until yesterday, he was being treated at Del Sol Medical Center.
Attorneys Luis Yanez and Virginia Longoria called Chief Allen to the stand, demanding to know where Piedra is, what he's charged with, and why they couldn't see him before this weekend.
"Everyone's upset at how the police department handled this matter," Yanez said.
Yanez and Longoria say when they tried to visit Piedra at Del Sol Medical Center, an officer threatened to arrest them for trespassing.
"He said it was pursuant to a security threat of some sort that my client posed to the general public even though he was in ICU, intubated," Yanez said.
Chief Allen said the officer standing guard would have had to leave Piedra alone with his attorneys in the Intensive Care Unit and that posed a security threat.
"We've had clients who were injured, we've had clients who've been at the psych ward but we've always gotten access to them," Yanez said.
Assistant City Attorney Kenneth Krohn asked the chief, "Were you following the policy regarding dangerous suspects being held in the hospital?" The chief responded, "Yes."
He added that the district attorney's office agreed Yanez and Longoria couldn't have access to Piedra. But Yanez says he remembers things differently.
"The DA's office stated to us that they knew nothing about the case," Yanez said.
Piedra's family also wasn't allowed to visit. The chief says they weren't privileged to see him at the time. Yanez was finally allowed to visit his client yesterday, and he says Piedra could barely stand up.
"My client still has open wounds and he's in the general population of the county jail," Yanez said.
Piedra was booked yesterday, a day before the hearing. And Yanez says, because of his client's condition, something doesn't smell right.
"I believe he was taken to the jail so soon so the police chief can wash his hands at this hearing and say he has no custody of my client," Yanez said.
Piedra's attorneys also tell us they've requested that the El Paso Police Department step aside and allow another agency to investigate.
They also asked a judge to lower Piedra's bond. But Yanez says Piedra was brought into the courtroom - without a wheelchair - and was crying from the pain. He says the court ordered a wheelchair for him and postponed the hearing until tomorrow to give the DA's office more time to prepare their witnesses.