Email records point to possible LPD cover-up in Ysasaga investigation
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Documents received through an open records request are raising questions of a cover-up within the Lubbock Police Department, related to the Mark Ysasaga investigation.
It centers around the arrest of Christian Castro, a named person of interest in the investigation.
You'll remember last month, police announced that they were led to Mark's body following an anonymous Crime Line tip.
But, KCBD later learned from sources close to the investigation, that tip actually came from Castro said to be one of the last people to see Mark alive.
KCBD obtained two documents on Monday, one is an open records request asking for specific information from a police report. The other is an e-mail from LPD Sergeant Mark Watkins to the police records department asking for that report to be deleted. The e-mail refers to the arrest record for Christian Castro.
It reads "Please delete this report. The charges were dropped by the district attorney office prior to the arrestee being placed in jail."
Documents obtained by KCBD also show that the email was later forwarded to Assistant Chief James Shavers.
We checked and the record was, in fact, deleted. The open records request was made on Monday, June 8, and the request to delete the police report was made the next day, on June 9.
According to Texas law, it is a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally destroy, conceal, or remove governmental records, and could be considered a felony if the police report was deleted with an intent to defraud or harm another.
Former federal and state prosecutor Dick Baker said, "There's a constitutional duty for a prosecutor to turn over exculpatory evidence to a defense attorney and the lack of the availability of the record to ascertain whether or not it contained exculpatory either as to guilt or mitigation of damages would be of some concern."
Interim Police Chief Jerry Brewer said, "I think there is a statute, but we'll just have to see how this turns out."
Brewer says there will be a review of the entire Ysasaga case.
City Manager James Loomis released the following statement regarding possible open records violations at the Police Department on Tuesday morning:
"As the official public information officer for the City of Lubbock, I take the open records process and the state laws providing it very seriously. Several weeks ago, I ordered an administrative investigation into this matter and that investigation is continuing. We are using all means available to us to conduct it.
"Additionally, the open records training process for city employees, including those in the Police Department, is under review. While we are confident the training is sufficient, we are taking this opportunity to review those practices to ensure employees know and understand the state laws providing it."
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