A former Houston police captain, who officials said was investigating a electoral fraud conspiracy theory for a group of conservative activists, has been arrested and charged with pointing his gun at an air conditioner repairer he he had sued to try to uncover fraudulent ballots, prosecutors said Tuesday. .
Former captain Mark A. Aguirre, 63, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and then released on $ 30,000 bail on Tuesday.
According to a police affidavit, Mr. Aguirre struck the repairman’s van with his sport utility vehicle on the morning of October 19. When the man got out of his truck, Mr. Aguirre pointed a handgun at him and ordered him to board. the ground and squeezed a knee behind his back, he said.
Other people who arrived searched the repairman’s truck for ballots and, finding none, chased him away, the repairman said, according to the affidavit. The truck was found abandoned nearby.
Mr. Aguirre had been hired by a group of conservative activists, the Liberty Center for God & Country, to investigate allegations of voter fraud, according to a statement from the office of Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney.
“He crossed the line from dirty politics to the commission of a violent crime and we are lucky no one was killed,” Ms. Ogg said. “His alleged investigation was back from the start – first alleging a crime had been committed, then trying to prove it happened.”
Mr. Aguirre spent more than two decades working for the Houston Police Department and was fired in 2003 after carrying out a botched raid targeting drag racers that resulted in the illegal arrests of around 300 people, whose records associated with the episode were subsequently deleted.
Across the United States, a series of lawsuits brought by the Trump campaign and its allies for electoral fraud have been thrown out in state and federal courts. Election officials representing both parties said there was no evidence that fraud played a role in determining the election outcome.
The Liberty Center group that hired Mr. Aguirre had promoted the false rhetoric that mail-in ballots would be used to steal the election from President Trump. According to the prosecutor’s office, the group paid Mr. Aguirre $ 266,400, of which $ 211,400 was deposited into his account the day after his collision with the repairman’s truck.
Terry W. Yates, a lawyer representing Mr. Aguirre, asked why the charges were not filed until almost two months after the episode.
“It’s a political pursuit,” Yates said, adding that the Oct. 19 confrontation started as a fender-bender and is now being used to undermine the Liberty Center. “The powers that be in Harris County are trying to use this as a diversionary tactic to show that there is no voter fraud here, which is ridiculous,” he said.
Houston Police said in a statement that “a lengthy investigation by the HPD determined that the allegations of voter fraud were unfounded and that no evidence of an illegal ballot was found” before the case is referred to the prosecutor’s office.
Liberty Center executives did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Jared Woodfill, a lawyer who is the president of the center, told KFYR news broadcaster that the organization had hired Mr Aguirre as an investigator. But he expressed doubts about the official version of events on October 19. “I would be shocked if that is what happened,” he said.
On the day of the confrontation, the repairman initially thought he was robbed and feared for his life, according to an affidavit from Detective John Varela of the Houston Police Department.
Mr Aguirre told Detective Varela that he and the Liberty Center had investigated a ballot collection plot, according to the affidavit, and that he and his friends had been watching the repairman’s home for four days.
The affidavit stated that Mr. Aguirre claimed that the repairman “had about seven hundred and fifty thousand fraudulent ballots and was using Hispanic children to sign the ballots because the children’s fingerprints would not show up in any database.” .
Mr Aguirre said he was monitoring when he accidentally crashed into the repairman’s truck, adding that he then got out of his vehicle and pointed his gun at the repairman, the affidavit said.
He added that Mr. Aguirre also tried to enlist local authorities in his case: three days before the collision, Mr. Aguirre had asked an official from the Texas attorney general’s office to conduct a traffic stop in order to investigate the repairman. And while being interviewed by Detective Varela on October 19, Mr. Aguirre said the detective may be a hero or part of the problem, according to the affidavit, adding, “I just hope you are a patriot.”
The affidavit indicated that the repairman had given the Houston police his consent to search his house, truck and storage shed. They found no evidence of electoral fraud.