Former West U. Officer “Shocked” By Felony Charges Against Him
A West U. police officer who was fired in September and now faces felony charges for allegedly fabricating reasons he pulled cars over said he was shocked when the city accused him of the crimes.
“I considered myself a good police officer when I was with West University Place,” said Nelson Hernandez, who has not yet been indicted for two charges of tampering with a governmental record. “I was shocked when West U. brought these charges against me.”
In both cases, the city claims Hernandez wrote offense reports documenting traffic stops, but a review of video footage from his in-car camera allegedly showed a different story than he had reported. Read specific details about the charges here.
Hernandez, 36, worked in the oil and gas industry until about two years ago when he put himself through the police academy to pursue a lifelong dream.
“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer,” he said. “I adamantly deny the charges being brought against me. At this point, we’re just going to let the judicial system prevail.”
Hernandez, who worked at the police department since June 2008, was at city hall on Thursday for an appeal hearing trying to reverse his termination. He entered the conference room with his attorney to meet with City Manager Michael Ross, Police Chief Ken Walker and other city officials. Hernandez emerged a short 12 minutes later.
Usually a terminated employee and his legal council would have presented witnesses and evidence to support the reversal of the firing decision. But in this case, any testimony would make it back to the Harris County District Court, said attorney Paul Aman.
“We’re just hamstrung because of the criminal case. It’s just the nature of the beast I guess,” Aman said. “Basically the other side relied on the documents already presented … There wasn’t a whole lot of positions in there.”
Aman said he has a chance by Nov. 6 to submit a summary of arguments about why Hernandez should keep his job. But this could also be used against Hernandez in his criminal case.
“There won’t be a summary on our part,” Aman said. “Today is a very sad day for him.”
City Manager Michael Ross will make a decision about Hernandez’s termination by Nov. 12.
“It’s obviously my job to objectively listen and review the information from both sides and render a fair decision,” Ross said. “I’m an informal judge in that process.”