Rangers to re­view DNA lab

DPS an­swers Acevedo’s request for in­quiry af­ter ac­cu­sa­tions

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Tony Plo­het­ski

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.

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