Questions remain on police reportCity officials won’t say who is being investigated

Questions still remain about an argument between District 1 City Council Member Malcolm Hamilton and Interim City Attorney Gary Landers, but it looks like many of them will go unanswered for now as Landers said the investigation remains open.
“Literally because it hasn’t been closed,” Landers said when asked why the investigation was still open, “and that means it’s still just pending to see what happens.”
Landers would not say whether Hamilton was the subject of the investigation or if anyone would be charged by police.
The City cited the ongoing criminal investigation as reason to withhold certain information requested by the Odessa American in October, claiming it would interfere. They also cited attorney-client privilege. The Texas Attorney General ruled in the OA’s favor, but only required the City to release the basic information requested. An additional statement on the incident was taken by Steven Davis, the head of the City’s Building Services Department, but that was also withheld.
Kelly Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said this was a common ruling. The OA will continue to submit FOI’s for any information about the incident including email, text or written reports.
“The public’s aware there was a council meeting, there were some disagreements,” Landers said. “A council member has made some public statements about that, involving talking about apologies and working together, and as I’ve said I don’t really talk about my individual relationships.”
Landers said he is talking with all City Council members, and said he thinks the last several council meetings have been very good meetings, where there is some disagreement on the council, but that they’ve been talking through them to reach a consensus.
A police report from the day of the incident was finally handed over after an Odessa American Freedom of Information request was submitted last October. The Texas Attorney General’s office ordered the city to release part of the FOI about an argument between Hamilton and Landers following the Oct. 9 City Council meeting. The report stated Hamilton was clinching his fists and shouting at Landers “f*** you piece of shit! You need to respect me more! Piece of shit!” before grabbing his coat and walking out as OPD Officer Howard Golden, Mayor David Turner’s son-in-law, entered the room.
The report stated Landers later reported to Officer Golden he felt threatened that Hamilton was going to physically assault him, and that he wanted it all documented.
Hamilton on Friday called the report very inaccurate and denied clinching his fists, swearing at Landers, or that he was going to physically assault him.
The police report was released after months of denials or downplaying of the incident by city employees. Landers said he felt comfortable at City Hall weeks after the report was taken, despite Landers stating in the report he felt threatened by Hamilton.
City Manager Michael Marrero in October only said there had been a “discussion” that night and said he was unaware of any police reports. Odessa Police Department Spokesperson Cpl. Steve LeSueur at the time said there was no police report filed and City Spokesperson Andrea Goodson said she had heard the rumors when asked about the incident months earlier, but the report indicates she was the one who notified the officer that he was needed.
Goodson said she was not present in the briefing room during the argument, but said she had summoned the officer to the room herself. When asked Monday why she sent an officer, she said “because I wanted to.”
“I had seen Hamilton talking to Landers in the Council Chambers and then I saw them go into the briefing room, and at that point in time I decided to talk to a police officer,” Goodson said.
She didn’t address why last year she told an OA reporter that she had only heard “rumors” of some kind of argument. She and others from the city repeatedly declined last October to address why an Odessa Police Department officer was stationed at City Hall for weeks following the argument.
Goodson at the time even suggested it was because it was a busy public building.
When asked why he denied there being a police report against Hamilton, LeSueur said it was actually a information report, which he neither saw nor was aware of when asked months ago. None of this answers the question of why the city still seeks to withhold the entire FOI request based on it being an ongoing criminal investigation.
“It wasn’t a normal report, it was just an information narrative,” LeSueur said.
LeSueur said when he later found out there was an information report filed against Hamilton, he had already been instructed to direct all questions regarding the incident to the city’s legal department. He said his supervisor had instructed him of the decision to direct questions to the legal department, but was unsure who actually made the decision.
Mayor David Turner declined to comment Monday saying he had not yet talked to LeSueur or Goodson about it. Turner added that he had not seen the incident, as he was out of town on the night of the October meeting, and heard about it the next day. He said he was unaware of the complaint.
City Manager Michael Marrero did not respond Monday to requests for comment but had previously downplayed what happened that night when asked about it.
Shortly after the Oct. 9 incident, an OPD officer began to be stationed in the lobby of City Hall. Goodson said at the time the officer was stationed there due to safety concerns. An officer has not been seen stationed at City Hall for weeks. When asked why and when an officer stopped being stationed at City Hall, Goodson directed the question to OPD. LeSueur did not have an exact time frame for when the practice stopped, but said OPD still conducts patrols around City Hall.