Should police be able to hide body camera footage from the public? Apparently, the Friendswood Police Department thinks they can.
Dolcefino Consulting has now taken legal action against the Friendswood Police Department as part of an investigation into possible civil rights violations against a 78-year-old grandfather.
On July 31, 2018, four Friendswood police officers raided a home, handcuffed the elderly grandfather and seized two children caught up in a nasty Galveston County divorce case.
The father who directed the police action is Houston police officer Allan Comstock who lives in Friendswood. Just minutes after his call to dispatch, police stormed the house. Comstock was driving his Houston police car at the scene.
Was this preferential treatment? Did Friendswood Police even have a court order to get the kids?
“You have a Houston Police Department officer who, it looks like, was using the Friendswood Police Department for his own personal gain and instructing them what he wanted to do,” says Jeff Diamant, the attorney for Dolcefino Consulting.
In August, Dolcefino Consulting filed a request under the Texas Public Information Act to see the body camera video and dispatch audio from the incident. Friendswood Police said no, even though the video is not confidential under state law. The reason: no one was arrested that night.
“The Police Department does not get to engage in possible unlawful conduct, then use the Texas Public Information Act as a shield from providing certain pieces of information by saying we didn’t arrest anybody,” says Diamant.
“In order to properly investigate this incident for possible civil rights violations and other civil or criminal acts and to highlight this secrecy, Dolcefino Consulting is now asking the 55th State District Court to let us examine the evidence,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.
The Comstock divorce case has been playing out in Galveston Courts. The judge in the divorce case had ordered Mindy Comstock in contempt for not turning over the kids for their allotted time with dad, but there was no court order to send police to get them. Friendswood Police did it anyway.
During the raid at the Comstock home, the officers handcuffed a very confused Joseph Manley, a 78-year-old grandfather with a heart condition, vision and hearing problems and detained him while they went upstairs with flashlights at nearly 11:00 PM to get the sleeping teenagers out of bed.
Manley claims he was falsely detained and manhandled by the officers but was never charged with any crime.
The legal action by Dolcefino Consulting questions whether officers of the Friendswood Police Department aided and abetted Allan Comstock in unlawfully taking his kids away from his wife.
The real goal of the petition is to find all the evidence of what really happened that night.
“We have asked for the body camera footage from that night multiple times, and each time the Friendswood police have refused,” says Wayne Dolcefino. “If they wanted transparency, they would have simply turned it over. The body cameras are paid for by Friendswood taxpayers. Period.”
Dolcefino Consulting will update the legal action on dolcefino.com and Dolcefino Consulting’s page on Facebook.