The corporal who was fired for wrongfully destroying thousands of pounds of evidence sat at the same tiny desk that had been in the Harris County Precinct 4 property room for 20 years. The printer had been broken for months. An old prisoner cell that had been converted to a gun storage room was full of rifles and shotguns stacked haphazardly on top of each other, and live ammunition was tucked away in disorganized boxes shared with handguns. Boxes marked “drugs” were stacked eight feet high, blocking the passageway down the room’s back aisles.
For 14 years, this was the workspace of Corporal Chris Hess, who was fired this spring after Precinct 4 superiors discovered he had destroyed about 21,000 pieces of evidence since 2007 and an unknown amount more since 2002 without following protocol, putting thousands of cases in jeopardy. Constable Mark Herman previously told reporters this scandal dated back only nine years, but an Internal Affairs Division report obtained by the Houston Press this week suggests the improper evidence destruction began earlier and was wider in scope.