Texas Rangers find no misconduct in Lockhart investigation


by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE


Posted on October 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 10:07 AM

No evidence of misconduct. That’s the findings of a Texas Rangers report into claims a Lockhart police officer tampered with evidence involving a fatal crash caused by his daughter.

It’s a follow-up to a KVUE Defenders investigation over the summer.

Dashboard camera video details what happened. It shows Lt. Chris Knudsen inside police tape going through his daughter's vehicle – Michelle Knudsen -- shortly after she hit and killed Danny Harrison while riding his motorcycle in July. He then walks away with a handful of items, including his daughter's purse. Investigators didn’t check the contents inside and were not required to either.

“We know he went into the car. We all saw it on the tape,” contended Chief Mike Lummus. He says Lt. Knudsen should not have worked is daughter’s own crash scene.

“Obviously there were ways we could have handled this better,” Chief Lummus said.

Chief Lummus then says he asked the Texas Rangers to look into possible criminal misconduct.

About three months later, Texas Ranger Jimmy Schroeder issued a report saying, “I have found no indication that Lt. Knudsen had any intent to tamper with any evidence...I have also found that none of the items removed by Lt. Knudsen had any apparent evidentiary value in the investigation of the traffic accident."

“I honestly believed in my own mind that there would not be problems criminally,” argued Chief Lummus.

While the Rangers' report found no evidence of misconduct, the Harrison family says they still want justice.

"I didn't understand how that could be legal," Amy Harrison told KVUE over the summer. The widow still thinks Lt. Knudsen’s actions were inappropriate.

By email Monday Oct. 29, she disagreed with the findings. She also thinks “disciplinary action should be taken against [Lt. Knudsen], as well as any supervisor that allowed him within the crime scene.”

KVUE asked Chief Lummus if Lt. Knudsen will face any disciplinary action. “At this point, I would say everything is on the table,” he said.

Chief Lummus also says he may change department policies that would prohibit any officer from responding to crashes caused by family members.

That potential change comes too late for Harrison and her daughter. “I'm glad for whatever good that may do for some other family down the road, but what are we supposed to do with that?" Harrison argued.

The Caldwell County District Attorney’s Office says a grand jury will review the crash in early November. At last check, Michelle Knudsen’s blood-alcohol results were still pending.

Click here to read the Texas Rangers' report.

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