A Houston man who was working as a civilian detention officer when he struck a male Harris County Jail inmate one time without provocation in February 2013 has been indicted on the misdemeanor charge of official oppression as a result.
Myron Nelson, 30, was hired in February 2009. His February 2013 encounter with the inmate led to an investigation by the HCSO Office of Inspector General and resulted in Nelson being fired in September 2013. He was indicted by a grand jury last week.
“The only way to run an accountable law enforcement agency that maintains the trust of the public is to have a workforce that does a great job when the public can see it or not, and to enforce the law against our own in the rare occasion when they break it,” Sheriff Adrian Garcia said. “That is what we do.”
“Ninety nine percent of the 1,600 or so men and women who work in the jail do their jobs well in a high stress environment, keeping the public, the inmates and themselves safe,” the sheriff added.
Coincidentally, another fired detention officer who was charged in October 2013 with smuggling tobacco and two cell phones into the jail for use by inmates was sentenced Monday to five years on probation, 15 days in jail, a $2,500 fine and 300 hours of community service.
Tamara Bundage, 26, of Brookshire, was also ordered by state District Judge Katherine Cabaniss to write a letter of apology to Sheriff Garcia. The charge was “prohibited item(s) in a correctional facility.”
Bundage hired on as a detention officer in November 2012 and was fired in October 2013.
The cases involving Bundage and two other former detention officers charged this year with bringing contraband into the “should remind our employees of the consequences of not respecting the law,” the sheriff said.
County jail commanders have stepped up intelligence gathering in the jail, leading to charges and potential charges against inmates and staff.
“Detention officers underwent background checks, psychological testing and academic and physical training before being deployed,” Sheriff Garcia remarked. “That’s one of the reasons why violations of the rules are so rare. But we always examine our supervisory process in search of improvements, and I commend the supervisors who followed up on complaints against the few employees who were dismissed.”