13 Investigates: Victim says HPD only now ‘hungry for information’ in suspended cases

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) —An aggravated assault victim told 13 Investigates he was “shocked” when he heard from the Houston Police Department earlier this year about an assault that happened in 2019.

The victim, who didn’t want to be identified, said the HPD detective he spoke with was “hungry for information” and willing to meet him in person. He even followed up with text messages.

But, four and a half years after the alleged assault outside his Houston home, the man told 13 Investigates, “I don’t want anything to do with this case.”

That victim’s case is one of 264,000 incidents that HPD suspended since 2016 due to a lack of staff. As of this week, HPD said about half of the 107,094 incident reports it reviewed have no leads.

However, ABC13 knows that some of the incident reports HPD suspended had workable leads.

HPD Chief Troy Finner has vowed to review all 260,000 suspended cases.

“As we work through, you may find some good news and you may find more bad news, but the fact is, I made a promise to everyone that we’re going to work through each and every one of those incident reports, so that’s what we’re doing,” Finner said during a news conference on April 11.

As the department reopened investigations into those cases, dozens of charges have been filed.

13 Investigates obtained a list of charges filed against 47 suspects who were investigated as part of the HPD’s internal review of charges that were suspended due to a lack of personnel.

According to HPD, just 22 of those suspects have been arrested since Wednesday.

The charges range from misdemeanors, like theft and prostitution, to felonies, like injury to the elderly and aggravated assault.

RELATED: 13 Investigates: Rape victim finally contacted by HPD 5 years after assault says ‘we matter’

In one felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon case that was initially suspended by HPD, court documents show officers “observed that this incident had multiple suspects, multiple complainants, multiple witnesses, and evidence … with potential leads.”

That alleged crime occurred in July 2023, but charges weren’t filed until March 25, 2024, and the suspect has yet to be arrested.

In another case filed as a result of HPD’s glimpse into suspended cases, court documents appear to show the victim slightly struggled to identify the suspect she said robbed her at a hotel in December 2020.

When police reached out to that victim this year, she told them she remembered the case because it was traumatizing. But, according to court documents, when they showed her a lineup, she was “not sure, but if anybody needs to be chosen, it would be (suspect) #3,” adding that the case is three years old.

Another suspect arrested due to HPD’s internal review of suspended cases is 29-year-old Geonary Na Quawn Gillespie.

Newly filed documents show Gillespie was charged on April 17, 2024, with “aggravated assault with a deadly weapon” in connection with a 2019 incident that was initially sidelined by police.

The victim in that case told 13 Investigates that police didn’t follow up with him back then.

“Nobody was hungry (for information) in 2019,” he said.

Gillespie is accused of threatening that victim “with imminent bodily injury” with a “firearm.”

He was already in jail after being accused of impersonating a police officer and sexual assault.

Court documents allege in October 2023, Gillespie approached a man he thought “was cute” and then “identified himself as a police officer” and sexually assaulted the victim in an “undercover police style vehicle.”

The victim of the newly filed charge against Gillespie for the 2019 incident now tells 13 Investigates he wishes the police would have investigated when he first reached out to them.

When ABC13 asked if he would have talked to the police then, he said, “Hell yeah, I would have been more willing. At that time in my life, I was mad.”

He said he’s now not interested because “it’s traumatizing.”

After 13 Investigates’ report aired, HPD issued a statement Wednesday evening:

“This is what this review process is all about: following up, filing charges and making arrests in those incident reports that should’ve been initially worked. We will continue to update our community on numbers of arrests and charges we have filed throughout this extensive review.”

HPD is asking victims whose contact information has changed since the time of their report to call (713) 308-1180 or email specialvictimsreport@houstonpolice.org.

Contact 13 Investigates

Do you think your case was mishandled by HPD? Or are you an HPD whistleblower who wants to talk anonymously? Fill out the form below. (On mobile? You can open our form by tapping here.)

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