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Texas Sheriff Faces Accusations of Corruption and Dysfunction in Wake of Mass Shooting

by Lucas Garcia
5 comments
corruption

Sheriff Greg Capers, a quintessential Texas lawman, stood before the cameras in his iconic white cowboy hat, adorned with a gold star on his chest, a white cross on his belt, and a prominently displayed pistol bearing his name. He proudly announced the arrest of Francisco Oropeza, the suspected mass killer who had evaded capture for four days after allegedly murdering five neighbors. The victims had complained that Oropeza’s late-night shooting disrupted their baby’s sleep. Capers assured the families of the victims that they could now rest easy. He personally escorted the apprehended suspect, whom he labeled a “coward,” to court, parading him across the town square.

Meanwhile, an investigation by Big Big News uncovered startling revelations that contradicted Capers’ initial claims about the response time to the mass shooting. The Associated Press (AP) also discovered that Capers’ moment in the national spotlight concealed years of corruption and dysfunction, previously unknown outside the piney woods of San Jacinto County.

Despite requests for comment, Capers did not respond directly.

The events that unfolded under Capers’ leadership reflect the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in rural America, where small teams must cover vast territories. They also underscore the difficulty of holding powerful law enforcement officials accountable in remote areas with limited external oversight.

Former deputies disclosed that Capers’ office had long neglected essential police work while focusing on asset seizures that bolstered the department’s $3.5 million budget but often failed to stand up in court.

Last year, Oropeza had been reported for domestic violence, but deputies did not arrest him. Additionally, the department failed to notify federal authorities to verify his immigration status, even though immigration officials stated that he was in the country illegally. Furthermore, Capers’ department appeared to have conducted minimal investigations following a 911 call reporting gunfire in another family’s backyard, which almost hit their young daughter.

To settle a whistleblower’s lawsuit accusing Capers of extensive misconduct, the county paid $240,000 in 2020. In the same year, county leaders hired a police consulting firm to examine the sheriff’s office but disregarded the recommendation to involve the Texas Rangers’ public corruption squad in the investigation.

The LION Institute’s report, obtained by the AP, presented evidence of Capers fostering a “fear-based” culture and overseeing the improper seizure of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of property. The report also alleged that deputies neglected to follow up on approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including sexual and child abuse cases.

Michael Voytko, a former San Jacinto County deputy, who spent nearly five years with the department, stated, “The sheriff and his inner circle do whatever they want, regardless of the law, with no consequences. There was no accountability for any of the deputies.”

Following the mass shooting on April 28 outside Cleveland, Texas, located 46 miles northwest of Houston, Chief Deputy Tim Kean, the second-in-command, explained that the sheriff had initially provided his “best estimation” of the response time. Kean also attributed the delay to low pay, which resulted in a shortage of deputies to patrol the county, where approximately 27,000 people reside, scattered across dirt roads within dense forests.

On that fateful night, Wilson Garcia and his wife requested their neighbor, Oropeza, to move his target practice farther from their home. When Oropeza refused, Garcia and his wife dialed 911 at 11:34 p.m. By that time, Oropeza had already drawn the attention of the sheriff’s office.

Records of previous calls to Oropeza’s home indicated that deputies had responded to at least three incidents in the past two years. One such incident occurred in June, when Oropeza’s wife reported that he had physically assaulted her, leaving her with injuries. However, the responding deputy arrived 46 minutes later, and Oropeza had already fled.

Immigration records revealed that Oropeza, a 38-year-old Mexican national, was ineligible to possess a firearm. He had been deported four times before 2016 but had unlawfully reentered the country. Oropeza’s lawyer declined to comment on his immigration status but confirmed that Oropeza would plead not guilty to the charges of capital murder.

Kean explained that deputies could not personally check immigration records and did not contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) because they found the agency unresponsive.

While the call logs do not provide specific details about all the incidents involving Oropeza’s home, Capers acknowledged that his office had previously received complaints about gunfire at the suspect’s residence.

Keith and Tiffany Pinkston, whose lives were also disrupted by a separate incident, heard about the mass shooting and immediately realized it could have been them. In January, their neighbor started shooting while they were enjoying a backyard campfire with friends. Bullets penetrated their fence, and one narrowly missed their 8-year-old daughter as she ran for safety, screaming. The group immediately called 911, but deputies arrived nearly 40 minutes later, failing to request the neighbor’s identification.

Two months later, state police arrested the same neighbor on a manslaughter charge related to a fatal car crash. Court documents revealed that he was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register with the Houston Police Department the previous year. His felony record prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Kean claimed that deputies routinely identify callers and subjects involved, check for any outstanding warrants, and search for evidence of gunfire. However, he could not confirm whether these procedures were followed during the incident at the Pinkstons’ home. In the call logs, deputies described the callers as “heavily intoxicated” and suggested that the gunfire was merely fireworks.

Keith Pinkston, who describes himself as a “country boy” and typically supports law enforcement, showed the AP bullet holes in his fence caused by the neighbor’s shooting. He criticized Capers and his deputies, calling them “worthless.”

Capers, who served as a deputy in the Houston area for several decades before becoming sheriff in 2014, inherited a 32-officer force with a history of corruption documented in the 1984 book “Terror on Highway 59.” The book detailed the abuses of power by Sheriff James ‘Humpy’ Parker, who violated the rights of motorists, particularly those from minority backgrounds, in the 1970s. Parker ultimately pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges and resigned.

County Commissioner David Brandon expressed disappointment, stating, “We thought we’d moved past that [corruption]. But obviously, we haven’t.”

Last year, concerned about the high turnover within the sheriff’s office, county commissioners paid the LION Institute, a police consulting firm, nearly $50,000 to review the department and propose improvements. The firm’s report provided evidence of the sheriff’s staff falsifying training records and neglecting investigations into approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including 106 alleged sexual assaults. The report also highlighted Capers’ dismissal of concerns regarding an affair between a deputy and an informant and allegations that the same deputy leaked investigative information to suspects.

During a closed-door meeting with commissioners, LION CEO Mike Alexander was surprised to find Capers present. In his subsequent report, Alexander, a former police chief, likened Capers’ presence to allowing a potential organized crime suspect to attend a briefing between the investigating detective and prosecuting attorney.

Kean refuted the allegations, asserting that deputies did not neglect investigations and blaming administrative errors in the# Texas Sheriff Accused of Corruption and Dysfunction Before Tragic Mass Shooting

Sheriff Greg Capers, embodying the classic image of a Texas lawman, donned a white cowboy hat with a gold star pinned to his chest, a white cross on his belt, and a large pistol inscribed with his name on his hip. With pride, he announced the arrest of Francisco Oropeza, the suspected mass killer who had managed to elude capture for four days. Oropeza was accused of killing five neighbors who had complained about his late-night shooting disrupting their baby’s sleep. Capers assured the families of the victims that they could finally find solace, and he personally escorted the apprehended suspect, whom he labeled a “coward,” to court.

However, an investigation conducted by Big Big News revealed shocking revelations that contradicted Capers’ initial claims about the response time to the mass shooting. The Associated Press (AP) also discovered a history of corruption and dysfunction within Capers’ office, a reality that had remained hidden from the public eye beyond the confines of San Jacinto County’s piney woods.

Capers did not provide a direct response to requests for comment.

The events that unfolded under Capers’ leadership shed light on the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in rural America, where small teams are responsible for patrolling vast territories. They also highlight the difficulties associated with holding powerful law enforcement officials accountable in remote areas with limited external oversight.

Former deputies disclosed that Capers’ office had long neglected essential police work while prioritizing asset seizures to bolster the department’s $3.5 million budget, even though many of these seizures did not hold up in court.

Last year, Oropeza had been reported for domestic violence, but deputies failed to arrest him. Additionally, the department neglected to inform federal authorities to verify his immigration status, despite immigration officials confirming that he was in the country illegally. Moreover, Capers’ department appeared to have conducted minimal investigations following a 911 call reporting gunfire from another family’s backyard, endangering their young daughter.

In 2020, the county paid $240,000 to settle a whistleblower’s lawsuit that accused Capers of extensive misconduct. County leaders also hired a police consulting firm to examine the sheriff’s office, but they ignored the firm’s recommendation to involve the Texas Rangers’ public corruption squad in the investigation.

According to a report from the LION Institute obtained by the AP, Capers fostered a “fear-based” culture and oversaw the improper seizure of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of property. The report further alleged that deputies neglected to follow up on approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including cases of sexual and child abuse.

Michael Voytko, a former deputy of San Jacinto County, who served nearly five years in the department, stated, “The sheriff and his inner circle do whatever they want, regardless of the law, with no consequences. There was no accountability for any of the deputies.”

Following the mass shooting on April 28, Chief Deputy Tim Kean, Capers’ second-in-command, explained that the initial response time provided by the sheriff was his “best estimation.” Kean also attributed the delay to low pay, which resulted in a shortage of deputies to cover the county’s vast area, where approximately 27,000 people live scattered across dirt roads amidst dense forests.

On that fateful night, Wilson Garcia and his wife asked their neighbor, Oropeza, to move his target practice away from their home. When Oropeza refused, Garcia and his wife dialed 911 at 11:34 p.m. By that time, Oropeza had already drawn the attention of the sheriff’s office.

Call logs revealed that deputies had responded to Oropeza’s home on at least three occasions over the past two years. In one incident that occurred in June, Oropeza’s wife reported that he had physically assaulted her, causing injuries. However, the responding deputy arrived 46 minutes later, and Oropeza had already fled.

Immigration records indicated that Oropeza, a 38-year-old Mexican national, was ineligible to possess a firearm. He had been deported four times before 2016 but had unlawfully reentered the country. Oropeza’s lawyer declined to comment on his client’s immigration status but confirmed that Oropeza would plead not guilty to the charges of capital murder.

Kean stated that deputies were unable to personally check immigration records and did not contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to their perception of the agency’s unresponsiveness.

While the call logs did not provide specific details about all the incidents involving Oropeza’s home, Capers admitted that his office had previously received complaints about gunfire at the suspect’s residence.

Keith and Tiffany Pinkston, whose lives were also disrupted by a separate incident, learned about the mass shooting and immediately realized they could have been victims as well. In January, while enjoying a backyard campfire with friends, they were confronted with their neighbor’s gunfire. Bullets pierced their fence, and one narrowly missed their 8-year-old daughter as she ran for safety, screaming. The group immediately called 911, but deputies arrived nearly 40 minutes later, failing to request the neighbor’s identification.

Two months later, state police arrested the same neighbor on a manslaughter charge related to a fatal car crash. Court documents revealed that he was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register with the Houston Police Department the previous year. His felony record prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Kean claimed that deputies routinely identified callers and subjects, checked for any outstanding warrants, and looked for evidence of gunfire. However, he could not confirm whether these procedures were followed during the incident at the Pinkstons’ home. Deputies wrote in the call logs that the callers were “heavily intoxicated” and suggested that the gunfire was due to fireworks.

Keith Pinkston, who described himself as a “country boy” and generally supported law enforcement, showed the AP bullet holes in his fence caused by the neighbor’s shooting. He criticized Capers and his deputies, labeling them as “worthless.”

Capers, who had served as a deputy in the Houston area for several decades before becoming sheriff in 2014, inherited a 32-officer force with a history of corruption documented in the 1984 book “Terror on Highway 59.” The book detailed the abuses of power by Sheriff James ‘Humpy’ Parker, who violated the rights of motorists, particularly those from minority backgrounds, in the 1970s. Parker ultimately pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges and resigned.

County Commissioner David Brandon expressed disappointment, stating, “We thought we had moved past that [corruption]. But obviously, we haven’t.”

Last year, concerned about the high turnover within the sheriff’s office, county commissioners paid the LION Institute, a police consulting firm, nearly $50,000 to review the department and suggest improvements. The firm’s report presented evidence of the sheriff’s staff falsifying training records and neglecting investigations into approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including 106 alleged sexual assaults. The report also highlighted Capers’ dismissal of concerns regarding an affair between a deputy and an informant and allegations that the same deputy leaked investigative information to suspects.

During a closed-door meeting with commissioners, LION CEO Mike Alexander was surprised to find Capers present. In his subsequent report, Alexander, a former police chief, likened Capers’ presence to allowing a potential organized crime suspect to attend a briefing between the investigating detective and prosecuting attorney.

Accusations of Corruption and Dysfunction Surround Texas Sheriff Following Mass Shooting

Sheriff Greg Capers, the embodiment of a traditional Texas lawman, stood before the media wearing a white cowboy hat, a gold star on his chest, a white cross on his belt, and a pistol with his name engraved on his hip. He proudly announced the capture of Francisco Oropeza, the suspected mass killer who had eluded law enforcement for four days. Oropeza was accused of killing five neighbors who had complained about his late-night shooting disturbing their baby’s sleep. Capers assured the families of the victims that they could finally find solace, and he personally escorted the apprehended suspect, whom he labeled a “coward,” to court.

However, an investigation conducted by Big Big News revealed shocking revelations that contradicted Capers’ initial claims about the response time to the mass shooting. The Associated Press (AP) also uncovered a history of corruption and dysfunction within Capers’ office, which had remained unknown outside the piney woods of San Jacinto County.

Capers did not directly respond to requests for comment.

The events that unfolded under Capers’ leadership shed light on the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in rural America, where small teams are responsible for patrolling vast territories. They also highlight the difficulties associated with holding powerful law enforcement officials accountable in remote areas with limited external oversight.

Former deputies revealed that Capers’ office had long neglected essential police work while prioritizing asset seizures to bolster the department’s $3.5 million budget, even though many of these seizures did not hold up in court.

Last year, Oropeza had been reported for domestic violence, but deputies failed to arrest him. Additionally, the department neglected to inform federal authorities to verify his immigration status, despite immigration officials confirming that he was in the country illegally. Moreover, Capers’ department appeared to have conducted minimal investigations following a 911 call reporting gunfire from another family’s backyard, which endangered their young daughter.

In 2020, the county paid $240,000 to settle a whistleblower’s lawsuit that accused Capers of extensive misconduct. County leaders also hired a police consulting firm to examine the sheriff’s office, but they ignored the firm’s recommendation to involve the Texas Rangers’ public corruption squad in the investigation.

According to a report from the LION Institute obtained by the AP, Capers fostered a “fear-based” culture and oversaw the improper seizure of tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of property. The report further alleged that deputies neglected to follow up on approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including cases of sexual and child abuse.

Michael Voytko, a former deputy of San Jacinto County, who served nearly five years in the department, stated, “The sheriff and his inner circle do whatever they want, regardless of the law, with no consequences. There was no accountability for any of the deputies.”

Following the mass shooting on April 28, Chief Deputy Tim Kean, Capers’ second-in-command, explained that the initial response time provided by the sheriff was his “best estimation.” Kean also attributed the delay to low pay, which resulted in a shortage of deputies to cover the county’s vast area, where approximately 27,000 people live scattered across dirt roads amidst dense forests.

On that fateful night, Wilson Garcia and his wife asked their neighbor, Oropeza, to move his target practice farther from their home. When Oropeza refused, Garcia and his wife called 911 at 11:34 p.m. By that time, Oropeza had already drawn the attention of the sheriff’s office.

Call logs revealed that deputies had responded to Oropeza’s home on at least three occasions over the past two years. In one incident that occurred in June, Oropeza’s wife reported that he had physically assaulted her, causing injuries. However, the responding deputy arrived 46 minutes later, and Oropeza had already fled.

Immigration records indicated that Oropeza, a 38-year-old Mexican national, was ineligible to possess a firearm. He had been deported four times before 2016 but had unlawfully reentered the country. Oropeza’s lawyer declined to comment on his client’s immigration status but confirmed that Oropeza would plead not guilty to the charges of capital murder.

Kean stated that deputies were unable to personally check immigration records and did not contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to their perception of the agency’s unresponsiveness.

While the call logs did not provide specific details about all the incidents involving Oropeza’s home, Capers admitted that his office had previously received complaints about gunfire at the suspect’s residence.

Keith and Tiffany Pinkston, whose lives were also disrupted by a separate incident, learned about the mass shooting and immediately realized they could have been victims as well. In January, while enjoying a backyard campfire with friends, they were confronted with their neighbor’s gunfire. Bullets pierced their fence, and one narrowly missed their 8-year-old daughter as she ran for safety, screaming. The group immediately called 911, but deputies arrived nearly 40 minutes later, failing to request the neighbor’s identification.

Two months later, state police arrested the same neighbor on a manslaughter charge related to a fatal car crash. Court documents revealed that he was a convicted sex offender who had failed to register with the Houston Police Department the previous year. His felony record prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Kean claimed that deputies routinely identified callers and subjects, checked for any outstanding warrants, and looked for evidence of gunfire. However, he could not confirm whether these procedures were followed during the incident at the Pinkstons’ home. Deputies wrote in the call logs that the callers were “heavily intoxicated” and suggested that the gunfire was due to fireworks.

Keith Pinkston, who described himself as a “country boy” and generally supported law enforcement, showed the AP bullet holes in his fence caused by the neighbor’s shooting. He criticized Capers and his deputies, labeling them as “worthless.”

Capers, who had served as a deputy in the Houston area for several decades before becoming sheriff in 2014, inherited a 32-officer force with a history of corruption documented in the 1984 book “Terror on Highway 59.” The book detailed the abuses of power by Sheriff James ‘Humpy’ Parker, who violated the rights of motorists, particularly those from minority backgrounds, in the 1970s. Parker ultimately pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges and resigned.

County Commissioner David Brandon expressed disappointment, stating, “We thought we had moved past that [corruption]. But obviously, we haven’t.”

Last year, concerned about the high turnover within the sheriff’s office, county commissioners paid the LION Institute, a police consulting firm, nearly $50,000 to review the department and suggest improvements. The firm’s report presented evidence of the sheriff’s staff falsifying training records and neglecting investigations into approximately 4,000 reported crimes, including 106 alleged sexual assaults. The report also highlighted Capers’ dismissal of concerns regarding an affair between a deputy and an informant and allegations that the same deputy leaked investigative information to suspects.

During a closed-door meeting with commissioners, LION CEO Mike Alexander was surprised to find Capers present. In his subsequent report, Alexander, a former police chief, likened Capers’ presence to allowing a potential organized crime suspect to attend a briefing between the investigating detective and prosecuting attorney.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about corruption

What are the accusations against Sheriff Greg Capers?

Sheriff Greg Capers faces accusations of corruption and dysfunction within his office. There are allegations of neglecting basic police work, pursuing questionable asset seizures, and failing to investigate reported crimes, including cases of sexual and child abuse.

What is the significance of the mass shooting in this context?

The mass shooting exposed the discrepancies in Sheriff Capers’ initial claims about the response time. It also brought national attention to the underlying issues of corruption and dysfunction within his office, which had previously gone unnoticed outside of San Jacinto County.

How has the department handled reported incidents involving suspects like Francisco Oropeza?

Reports indicate that the department did not promptly respond to incidents involving suspects like Oropeza, including cases of domestic violence. They also failed to check immigration status despite immigration officials confirming Oropeza’s illegal presence in the country.

What evidence supports the accusations against Sheriff Capers?

A report from the LION Institute revealed evidence of a “fear-based” culture, improper property seizures, falsified training records, and failure to pursue investigations into reported crimes. The report also mentioned the dismissal of concerns regarding an affair between a deputy and an informant.

What steps have been taken to address these issues?

The county settled a whistleblower’s lawsuit against Sheriff Capers and hired a police consulting firm to review the department. However, the firm’s recommendation to involve the Texas Rangers’ public corruption squad was disregarded by county leaders. The investigation into the department’s misconduct and the path towards accountability remain ongoing.

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5 comments

GrammarNinja July 9, 2023 - 7:44 pm

I can’t beleive the sherif was wearing a cowboy hat and a gold star. Talk about a stereotype! But seriously, the allegashuns of corruption and dysfunction are no laughing matter. They need to get their act together and clean up that office ASAP!

Reply
LilJohn87 July 10, 2023 - 12:06 am

omg this sheriff capers guy sounds like a real bad apple. corruption and dysfuncshun in his office?! not good at all! they should hold him accountable for his actions and get proper oversight in place. #sheriffscandal

Reply
Bookworm82 July 10, 2023 - 2:38 am

This article highlights the lack of accountability in rural law enforcement. It’s disheartening to see the neglect of basic police work and the mishandling of serious crimes. The victims and their families deserve better. Time for a change! #JusticeForAll

Reply
SocialObserver July 10, 2023 - 2:40 am

It’s concerning how power can corrupt even those tasked with upholding the law. The fact that complaints about corruption and dysfunction went unnoticed for so long is a failure of the system. We need transparency and accountability in our law enforcement agencies! #AccountabilityMatters

Reply
XtremeFighter July 10, 2023 - 10:27 am

Sheriff Capers and his deputies need to face the consequences for their actions or lack thereof. This is a prime example of why we need stronger oversight in law enforcement. Let’s hope they don’t sweep this under the rug! #CorruptCapers

Reply

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