Alex Constantine - October 15, 2008
" ... [Carnaby] said that he was working with the FBI and CIA overseas 'doing intelligence work' and that his story could be verified by speaking to an FBI agent he knew. An officer called the agent, who vouched for Carnaby and said 'he would be very thankful if we helped Carnaby out.' ... "
Judge allows release of HPD shooting video
Police killed man who claimed to be a CIA agent; records show he also had 2003 run-in with officers
By MARY FLOOD and LINDSAY WISE
Oct. 15, 2008
A Houston man who identified himself as a CIA agent before leading police on a high-speed chase that ended with his fatal shooting in late April had been questioned by authorities five years ago for allegedly pulling over a woman in Pearland, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday.
A woman called the Pearland Police Department on the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2003, to report that a man in a tan sport utility vehicle had tried to stop her.
The man told her he was a federal agent and needed to talk to her, but drove off when she threatened to call police, the woman said. She gave the man's license plate number and an officer pulled him over at North Nolan and Vanity in Pearland.
Previously unreleased police reports from Pearland and Brazoria County identify that man as Roland Carnaby.
His widow, Susan Carnaby, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city and the Houston Police Department on behalf of her husband's estate, seeking damages and a change in police customs and practices in high speed chases like the one that preceded his shooting by police on April 29.
Her attorney released the homicide report and videos of the traffic stop, chase and shooting to the Chronicle after a federal judge on Friday refused to seal documents in the lawsuit.
The city of Houston had asked that the homicide report and other materials be kept secret, but U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled the report and other materials could be released, with some personal information redacted.
Among those documents are the reports detailing the Pearland incident in 2003 when Carnaby reportedly tried to pull a woman over on County Road 90 at Northfork. Carnaby told officers he had seen the woman driving recklessly, so he pulled up next to her "and told her to slow down before she kills someone."
He said that he was working with the FBI and CIA overseas "doing intelligence work" and that his story could be verified by speaking to an FBI agent he knew. An officer called the agent, who vouched for Carnaby and said "he would be very thankful if we helped Carnaby out." No charges were filed.
But when Carnaby flashed his CIA identification badge to get out of a speeding ticket on Texas 288 in April, Houston Police Officer C.H. Starks quickly became suspicious that the silver-haired man in the dark suit might be impersonating a federal agent.
Carnaby's hands were shaking, and he had a red and blue strobe light on his dash, Starks later told investigators.
Video and audio recordings of the traffic stop show Starks asking for a closer look at Carnaby's ID badge. Carnaby declined, citing "national security."
Starks asked for a telephone number where he could verify Carnaby's employment, but when he called the number he got an answering machine.
The officer said he became increasingly skeptical when he found Carnaby's vehicle was registered to an organization called the National Security Command Center at 10223 Broadway in Pearland. Starks also learned Carnaby had a concealed handgun license and a 1992 arrest for disorderly conduct.
Carnaby asked Starks to speak to Officer Francisco Zavala of HPD's Internal Affairs Division on his cell phone. Zavala told Starks he knew Carnaby and thought he worked for CIA, but he had never actually confirmed that information.
Starks called HPD's criminal investigations and major offenders divisions to see if he could verify Carnaby's connection to the CIA. He was told Carnaby was not a CIA agent and that he should find a traffic offense to arrest him because "he had been stopped in the past and posed as a CIA agent."
More than half an hour after Starks had first pulled Carnaby over, he approached his SUV and asked him to step outside the vehicle. "Don't do this to me," Carnaby said. Starks asked him again and Carnaby put the SUV into gear and drove off. At one point, he threw an object out the driver's side window near Yellowstone and Dixie, but officers were never able to find it.
Carnaby called HPD's Zavala back during the chase and told him he thought "that the agency had set him up." Carnaby also called FBI Special Agent Dennis Franks. Zavala and Franks both told him to pull over and obey the police.
Carnaby finally ran out of gas and rolled to a stop on a service road near Buffalo Bayou. Video shot from two patrol cars at the end of the 120 mph chase shows Carnaby exiting the car on the driver's side as an officer bashes in the passenger side window with a baton. Carnaby reaches back into the car for a "shiny object" that turned out to be a cell phone. Thinking Carnaby had a weapon, Sgt. Andrew Washington and officer Cecil Foster fired.
Carnaby was shot once in the back. The autopsy shows the bullet smashed his spine and nicked an artery, causing him to bleed to death.
Police said they later found three weapons in Carnaby's car. In July, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict to Washington and Foster.
Carnaby's widow's attorney, Randall Kallinen, said the shooting was unnecessary and he thinks the report and tapes help prove his point that police need more training to deal with these situations.
Kallinen discounted the 2003 Pearland incident as an accusation that did not result in any charge. He noted it did verify that an FBI agent would vouch for Carnaby. He said the trial scheduled next year will show Carnaby did work on contract for the federal government. The CIA has denied that Carnaby was ever an employee or contractor for the agency.