Harris Co. district attorney sued for retaliating against former HPD crime lab employees

By John Suayan, Galveston Bureau | Dec 17, 2012

HOUSTON - Two former employees with the Houston Police Department Crime Lab have filed suit against Harris County, Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos and Harris County Assistant District Attorney Rachel Palmer in response to alleged "retaliation for their protected speech and association."

A lawsuit filed Dec. 17 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas alleges that the defendants worked to "silence and harm" Houston residents Amanda Culbertson and Jorge Wong after the plaintiffs raised issues about temperature and electrical problems with the blood testing vans belonging to HPD.

At the time of the events in question, the complainants were working at HPD and then Lone Star College.

The suit, which describes Culbertson and Wong as "citizen whistleblowers", asserts Lykos and Palmer launched a perjury investigation against Culbertson to get back at her for testifying about the supposed problems with the BAT vans, additionally stating Culbertson was informed that her Texas technical advisor license "was in jeopardy" and "she had angered people" at the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

Wong also faced threats in regards to his license after it was revealed he shared the same concerns with the BAT vans as Culbertson, according to the 22-page original petition.

The suit further shows the plaintiffs were put out of work when the Harris County Commissioners Court voted in early October 2011 for a budget plan which called for the transfer of the breath testing contract from Lone Star to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Culbertson and Wong insist they suffered "tremendous damage" because the defendants' "unlawful and tortious" conduct given their constitutional rights were violated, their prospects for future employment were dimmed and their reputations and character were called into question, it states.

Attorney R. Scott Cook with The Cook Law Firm in Austin is representing the complainants.

Case No. 4:12-CV-3644

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