By Calvin Palmer
The gunman who shot and killed an undercover police officer on Tuesday night was an illegal immigrant who had been stopped and ticketed by Houston Police Department at least four times. He had also been sent back to Mexico by U.S. Border Patrol 10 years ago.
Records show that Roberto Pedroza Carrillo, 37, was stopped as recently as last November.
In 2002, he failed to appear in court for a speeding offense and a warrant was issued but the case was resolved when he paid the fine.
Ticketing officers had no way of knowing Carrillo was an illegal immigrant because he had never been arrested and fingerprinted in Houston.
Municipal court records for a Roberto Carrillo, with the same address and date of birth released by investigators, show several traffic tickets from late 2002 to November of 2008. Several of the charges were dismissed after he provided proof of insurance and registration, and after HPD officers failed to appear in court. Records show Carrillo died owing the city $195 for a speeding ticket.
Under HPD policy, officers are not allowed to inquire about citizenship status during routine traffic stops. Suspects without valid identification can be fingerprinted, even for minor offenses. Carrillo, however, had several forms of ID, including at least two Texas driver’s licenses.
He was killed in a gunfight after he paid thousands of dollars to undercover officer Henry Canales, who was posing as a thief selling stolen televisions.
Police say Carrillo paid Canales $6,500 for $30,000 worth of merchandise stacked in a rented truck in a Walgreen’s parking lot in southwest Houston, then pulled a gun and demanded the return of the money as well as the keys to the truck.
Canales, 42 and a 16-year veteran of the job, was shot in the back, but was able to fire a shot and wound Carrillo during the botched robbery attempt. A second undercover officer, Ruben Lopez, rushed over to secure the wounded Carrillo, who fired several shots at the officer before Lopez shot him once in the back.
Carrillo’s three associates, including a 16-year-old girl, fled the shooting scene on Hillcroft near Bellaire in a van, but quickly were stopped by officers backing up the undercover operation. All three are illegal immigrants, authorities said.
Capital murder charges have been filed against Andres Maldonado Nava, 41, of Mexico, and Xiomara Mendez Rosales, 36, of Honduras.
[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]