Rangers to review DNA lab
DPS answers Acevedo’s request for inquiry after accusations
The Texas Rangers will look into a series of allegations by a former Austin police DNA analyst that raised questions about the crime lab’s quality of testing and work environment, Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday.
Acevedo said that he requested help from the Texas Department of Public Safety this week and that Director Steve McCraw agreed Friday for the agency to conduct the outside review.
Acevedo said Rangers will look into claims made by former analyst Cecily Hamilton, whose lengthy memo in February included allegations of a hostile work environment and one employee helping another pass a proficiency exam.
“They will be given full access to our employees, full access to our files,” Acevedo said.
Local authorities last week announced that they also would seek an independent review of the crime lab’s DNA testing. Officials for the
Travis County district attorney’s office, which is coordinating that effort, said they have not yet formally hired an outside expert.
Austin police officials have said that this spring they investigated Hamilton’s claims and deemed them unfounded. They also said that routine audits by national accrediting agencies have found no deficiencies.
Prosecutors have given Hamilton’s memo and their findings to defense attorneys in nearly 2,000 cases as potential evidence.
Hamilton said Friday she would cooperate with a Texas Rangers’ investigation.
“It would be nice for them to say that I legitimately brought concerns up to my chain of command, following the proper procedures, and they (Austin police) did not perform a good internal investigation,” she said.
Also Friday, Acevedo took issue with claims he said Hamilton made about the police investigation into the controversial police shooting of Nathaniel Sanders II last year.
Acevedo said police officials knew that evidence, which involved a bag of marijuana found in the car in which Sanders was riding, probably had the DNA of a department employee and would not be reliable.
He accused Hamilton of mentioning contamination in that case to inflame the community.
Hamilton said in an interview that she cited the case as the lone time that evidence could not be used because of contamination.