A Houston father is furious about what happened after his son was pulled over for speeding in the tiny town of Clute in Brazoria County.
“I don’t want any parent to endure what I did,” said Jack Henry.
Henry’s son, Michael, is a sophomore at Texas A&M. In the early morning hours of March 17, the 19-year-old, who was on Spring Break, was driving from Galveston to Sargent to visit friends.
“He was going down to an innocent little river house,” said the father.
Henry was in the 500 block of Hwy 288-B, when a Clute police officer pulled him over. The posted speed limit is 45 MPH. Henry was going 88 MPH. Instead of writing Henry a ticket, the officer arrested him and booked him into the Clute jail for speeding.
“Speeding, are you kidding?” asked his father.
In the state of Texas, you can’t arrest a driver for speeding, unless other charges accompany it. Henry spent 24 hours behind bars. All the while, his parents thought he had gone missing after his friends called the couple wondering why their son never showed up in Sargent.
The college sophomore told his parents he was only allowed to make one collect phone call. He tried to call his parents, but on the first try there was no answer. His father says he wasn’t able to make any other calls.
“I’m trying to find everything I can to think he’s not upside down in a bayou,” said the teen’s father. “We believe we called everybody.”
A missing person’s notification was sent to most law enforcement agencies in the region.
It is not clear if the Clute Police Department received notification. It was eventually a ping from the teen’s cell phone that led them to the Clute Police Dept. where they found their son. “It was not an easy task,” he said.
The police chief in Clute learned of what happened Thursday and immediately launched an internal investigation.
“We try to have a good community relation with our public and that’s one reason we jumped on it as quick as we found out about it and started looking into it,” said Clute Police Chief Mark Wicker. “I can certainly understand their concern.”
Wicker says he questioned the officer about what happened. The officer told him that’s the way he was trained.
“I want to make sure that all of our officers understand when the offense is arrestable, and when it’s not,” said Wicker.
Wicker is considering disciplinary action against the officer. He’s also looking into whether this has happened to anyone else. His main concern right now is the Henry family.
“If we could, we would, but there is no way to give him back the time, so we’re trying to make it right. Make it right the best we can, and his family,” Wicker said.
The chief said they are thinking about making the speeding ticket a warning and refunding the family for any costs they endured. Meanwhile, the Henry family has hired an attorney and is considering civil action.
“There were apparently several failures in the system that should have prevented this, but that didn’t happen,” said attorney Jason Gibson. “The one thing they can’t give back to this teen is the time he spent in jail and the anguish that his family went through not knowing if he was dead or alive.”