Garrett Hardin, a veteran Texas sheriff's officer, fatally shot Roderick Brooks, a 47-year-old Black man, after he allegedly stole detergent. (Photo: Lawyers of Roderick Brooks and Harris County Sheriff's Office)
The sergeant in the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who pinned down and fatally shot Roderick Brooks, an unarmed Black man, in Texas last month has a long history of being disciplined for violating department policies and was on disciplinary probation at the time of Brooks’ death, according to records obtained by HuffPost.
The sheriff’s office has suspended Garrett Hardin without pay on eight different occasions since 2004 for infractions that include crashing his patrol car into another vehicle, giving false statements to his supervisors, and making lewd and sexual remarks to officers working under him.
Hardin was first suspended in 2004, when he entered a cellblock after witnessing a fight between two incarcerated people and left security doors unlocked and unsupervised.
He has also been suspended without pay four times since 2005 for damaging patrol cars, according to the records.
In April 2008, Hardin was issued a five-day suspension because it was determined he had “knowingly misdirected” his immediate supervisor about his involvement in a vehicle pursuit, according to the records. Dash-camera footage showed Hardin and a sheriff’s deputy engaging in a vehicle pursuit after they had been advised to only play a “support role” to the Houston Police Department following a traffic stop.
A deputy who was in the vehicle with Hardin told a supervisor they had not engaged in the pursuit, and the records indicate Hardin was “reluctant” to correct the deputy’s account. He later acknowledged the statements he gave his supervisor about the pursuit were “somewhat evasive and misleading.”
Hardin was most recently suspended and put on probation earlier this year, after an internal investigation into allegations that he had made lewd comments to people working under him.
While Hardin was doing a roll call as a supervisor, he told a female deputy, “Don’t let me show you my dick is bigger than yours” and made a hand gesture to reflect the size of his penis, according to deputy records. The comment was apparently a warning to his unit to not make any mistakes.
He also told a female deputy that he would “eat that ass out,” which she took to mean that he would strongly discipline his unit.
One deputy who was present at the time said, “I don’t know what type of roll call you’re having” and left.
One woman said she asked Hardin to repeat what he said. She said he looked her in the eyes and repeated that he would “eat her ass out,” which she took as a sexual advance. She said during the investigation that Hardin’s comments were “crude” and created a “hostile” work environment and that she had “no trust” in him as a supervisor.
Roderick Brooks, 47, was fatally shot by a sheriff's sergeant after he allegedly shoplifted detergent from a dollar store. (Photo: Family of Roderick Brooks)
Hardin made these comments in front of several people, according to the report, and seven deputies were interviewed about the incident as part of an internal investigation. One said she did not report Hardin’s statements initially because of “fear of retaliation.”
Another deputy said that Hardin told them, “Now that HR is gone, I can say what the fuck I want to say.”
During the investigation, Hardin said he did not remember making the comments but that if he had, he would have done so jokingly.
Hardin was ordered to take sexual harassment training, placed on a 180-day probation and suspended without pay for 80 hours. He is appealing this most recent disciplinary case with the department, and a hearing date with the Sheriff’s Civil Service Commission is set for Oct. 19.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to a request for comment on Hardin’s probationary period and list of suspensions.
Hardin was still on probation following the investigation into reports of his lewd comments on July 8 when he responded to a 911 call saying a man had stolen from a Dollar General store and pushed a woman there.
Body-camera footage shows Hardin chasing Brooks, 47, through a parking lot, pinning him to the ground and stunning him with a Taser. The Taser fell next to Brooks’ face as he lay on the ground. When Brooks grabbed for the stun gun, Hardin said, “I will fucking shoot you.”
The footage shows that Brooks did not point the Taser toward the officer and that he let go of it while Hardin reached for his gun.
Hardin fired one shot, which struck Brooks in the neck and killed him, according to an autopsy report obtained by HuffPost. Brooks also suffered blunt trauma to his head and torso, as well as scattered abrasions and contusions.
Brooks’ family and attorneys have called for Hardin to be terminated from the department and be criminally charged.
Justin Moore, an attorney representing the Brooks family, said in a statement to HuffPost: “From what we see in Hardin’s personnel file, and what we see is left off of it ― such as the multiple officer-involved shootings and use of force incidents that have either left citizens dead or in critical condition, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has no problem harboring deputies who lie and put citizens’ lives in peril.
“There seems to be an incredible lack of institutional oversight with this agency, and this could quite possibly be the tip of the iceberg. I can only imagine what a deeper investigation into the Harris County Sheriff’s Office would uncover.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.