Badge & Gun: December 2007

Fallen Officers Remembered: Guy Patrick Gaddis

He joined the Houston Police Department in Police Cadet Class No. 148, which began training on April 27, 1992. His class completed training on October 15, 1992. His first assignment was to the night shift of Radio Patrol - Beechnut Substation, now called the Southwest Division. He wore Badge No. 4539.

On Sunday night, January 30, 1994, Officer Gaddis reported for duty on the night shift at the Beechnut. He was assigned to ride a one-man unit, 17E23N. After running several report calls, Gaddis was flagged down in the 6700 block of Bissonnet by a citizen who reported that he had been robbed by two suspects at the Topaz Night Club. The officer reported this on-view complaint to the dispatcher and requested other units to check by with him at the Topaz, a known area trouble spot located at 6501 Chimney Rock. The reporting time was 2:21 a.m. now on the morning of Monday, January 31.

Three of Officer Gaddis' fellow units, with a total of five officers on board, immediately responded to this request. The first officer to arrive observed Officer Gaddis to have two suspects against a wall, spread-eagled and undergoing a search. This officer also observed that Gaddis had apparently completed his search of what will now be referred to as the No. 2 suspect. This first responding officer took control of this suspect and immediately handcuffed him with his hands to the rear. While doing so, this officer observed Gaddis continue his search of the No. 1 suspect. In doing so, he discovered the robbery complainant's watch. At this point, Officer Gaddis very likely ended his search of the No. 1 suspect prematurely, handcuffing his hands behind him.

Other officers were arrived and observed the end results of the arrest. They watched as Officer Gaddis and the first arriving officer placed both suspects in the rear of Gaddis' patrol car. Suspect No. 1, later identified as Edgar Tamayo, was seated in the left rear seat while Suspect No. 2, Jesus Zarco Mendoza, was placed in the right rear seat.

A very careful review of all officers present took place not only for the prosecution of the offense but also eleven years later to document the line of duty death for this publication. While no blame was assessed, important lessons were learned from the Gaddis experience.

Without a doubt, the events of this early morning will live forever in the hearts and minds of all five officers present prior to Officer Gaddis' departure with the two suspects. There names are not used here. While they did not suffer the same consequence as Guy Gaddis, their names should not be brought forth for further questions about their actions.

These two suspects were in custody, handcuffed behind their back in the rear seat of a caged patrol car. While Gaddis transported them to the Southeast Command Station, the following is known:

Officer Gaddis drove southbound in the 8100 block of Chimney Rock. He drove through the City of Bellaire, just north of Chimney Rock and Holly. Then something went terribly awry in the back seat of the patrol car from behind the Plexiglas cage. While driving, Officer Gaddis was shot in the back of his head, causing his patrol car to veer to the left, out of control.

The unit crossed a residential yard on the northeast corner of this intersection, traveled further south across Holly and into the yard of a residence at 5229 Holly, striking the house at a high rate of speed and landing near the front door that faced north.

The crash awakened the occupants of this residence. They immediately came out the side door, only to see that a Houston police had crashed into the front of their home. The patrol officer who had been the driver was slumped over the steering wheel. They also saw an individual in the back seat cage portion of the police vehicle bleeding from the head and apparently unconscious.

The residents immediately summoned the Bellaire police. The Bellaire dispatcher sent Officer W. T. Warner to the scene, backed up by Officer J. M. Manning. Officer Warner had been monitoring HPD's radio channel and was aware of the arrests having been made on Chimney Rock.

The Bellaire officers saw a real-life scene unlike anything they had seen in their veteran police careers: the crashed HPD patrol car and, more importantly, the condition of Officer Gaddis. They quickly called an ambulance manned by City of Bellaire paramedics Carla Breeding and Chuck Lysack. Breeding and Lysack found that the officer was not breathing and had no vital signs. They didn't give up. They made every effort possible to resuscitate Gaddis, who had three gunshot wounds to the back of his head. As they did so, the LifeFlight helicopter was in flight. Bellaire Officers Warner and Manning took control of the scene as well as the suspect Mendoza in the rear of the police car. The suspect had regained consciousness. The paramedics also examined him, finding no serious injuries.

While these activities took place, Houston police officers virtually surrounded the neighborhood.

LifeFlight rushed Officer Gaddis to Hermann Hospital, with little hope for his survival. Doctors pronounced him dead at 4:31 a.m., January 31, 1994. He was only twenty-four years old, leaving his pregnant wife Rosa behind.

Besides his wife, the officer was survived his parents, Mr. And Mrs. Edwin (Gayle) Gaddis of Brookside Village; brother Glenn and his wife Angela of Houston; brother Gary and nephew Justyn Gaddis of Brookside; his aunt Patsy Reeves of Shreveport; Uncle Charles Gottlick and wife Maureen of Scotch Plains, New Jersey; aunt Bernadette Lopez and husband George and uncle Russell Gottlick and wife Joyce.

Funeral services were held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 2, 1994, at the Second Baptist Church in Houston with Dr. Ed Young, Reverend David Dixon, and HPD Chaplain Ed Davis officiating. Burial followed at the South Park Cemetery in Pearland.

The on-duty Homicide supervisor, Lieutenant, C. S. "Steve" Arrington, upon learning of this tragedy, began an immediate call to the Homicide Murder squad responsible for this particular time segment. Lieutenant Nelson Zoch was the Homicide Murder Squad lieutenant on-call at this time of the morning. "I can vividly recall arriving on the scene to find it very professionally protected not only by Lieutenant Arrington of HPD Homicide and the Beechnut Patrol officers and supervisors as well as Bellaire P.D.," Zoch said. "This offense occurred in the City of Bellaire, a municipality complete and separate from the City of Houston. As such, Bellaire had legal jurisdiction into the offenses which had occurred at that location on Chimney Rock and Holly.

"Having had previous experience with conflicting jurisdictional issues, after being assessed of the situation, Lieutenant Arrington and I approached the highest-ranking supervisor on the scene, the Bellaire chief of police. Words cannot describe the look on the chief's face when I, as a mere lieutenant of the Houston Police Department, volunteered to take complete responsibility for this investigation. That offer was graciously accepted, at which time their full support and cooperation was also pledged to provide their assistance to our department. There was never any doubt in my mind that the chief and his department could and would have conducted a professional investigation. However, as learned from previous incidents, law enforcement/justice was best served with one agency assuming total responsibility for the investigation."

Shortly after this jurisdictional matter was resolved, Criminal Investigations Assistant Chief John Gallemore and Homicide Captain W. G. "Bill" Edison arrived on the scene. Both were in complete agreement about the jurisdictional issue and assisted from that time forth in providing any additional manpower and resources necessary to pursue the goal of securing a conviction of those responsible for the capital murder of one of Houston's finest, Officer Guy Patrick Gaddis.

Lieutenant Zoch began a complete squad callout to assist the initial scene investigators, Sergeants Jerry Novak and Larry Webber, who were to be the lead investigators under the supervision of Captain Bill Edison and Lieutenant Zoch. It would be their responsibility to coordinate all investigative responsibilities through their supervisors and the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"Lieutenant Arrington and I, while at the scene, reviewed the personnel which had been utilized to this point," Zoch recalled. Two Homicide Chicano Squad Investigators, Jaime Escalante and Vincente Garcia were called in to assist in the all important interviews with the principals, Tamayo and Mendoza. As had been the practice in previous officer-involved Investigations, a Homicide investigator was assigned to be personally responsible for the care of the suspect, mainly assuring that a suspect was provided full constitutional rights under the law. In this instance, Zoch assigned Sergeant Rick Maxey the responsibility for the main suspect, Tamayo. The lieutenant gave Maxey's partner, Sergeant Stuart Hal Kennedy, the assignment to interview the second suspect, Mendoza, who at this time appeared to us not only as a robbery suspect, but as a valuable witness to a capital crime.

"Thus, we had a full squad of capable investigators to choose from, as well as a pool of qualified detectives to assist from in the two other dayshift Murder squads and the Chicano Squad," Zoch said.

Sergeant Fred W. Carroll was assigned to conduct the hospital investigation while Sergeant Stuart. H. "Hal" Kennedy, who had been assigned to the suspect Mendoza, also was given the difficult task of attending the autopsy of the officer. Officer Gaddis' patrol car, heavily damaged from the impact with the house, was towed to the HPD print stall building and secured. Sergeant Eugene Yanchak was assigned to coordinate a thorough Crime Scene Unit and Lab personnel processing of this vehicle. Lieutenant Zoch assigned Sergeant David A. Ferguson as his assistant, whose job was to coordinate with the District Attorney's Office regarding any charges that would be filed in this case. Chief Prosecutor Ned Morris was present during the scene investigation, this being the norm in cases involving the death and/or serious on-duty injury of a police officer.

Further assignments were as follows: Sergeant D. D. Shirley conducted an at-length interview with the original robbery complainant. (This became more important than ever since it was this offense that eventually led to the death of Officer Gaddis); Sergeant R. L. "Rick" Maxey began to do thorough computer background investigations into the criminal histories of both suspects, mainly Tamayo; When it became apparent that Tamayo and Mendoza's language barrier was an issue, Chicano Squad Investigators Jaime Escalante and Vincente Garcia were assigned to conduct interviews with the suspects; Veteran Detectives Maxey and Kennedy supervised these all-important proceedings; Sergeants Larry Ott and Bruce Baker assisted in the acquisition of legal consents and warrants relating to the recovery of additional evidence from both suspects.

Other observations and evidence recovered and/or noted at the scene and during the vehicle examination were that there were five bullet holes in the Plexiglas shield supposedly in place to protect the police officer. Six spent .380 hulls and were recovered from the rear area of the police car as well as a Bersa .380 automatic weapon.

From the evidence recovered, as well as from a statement provided by the second robbery suspect, the following was believed to have been the chain of events leading up to this tragedy:

Somehow, during the original pat down and cursory searches conducted at the robbery scene, Edgar Tamayo had managed to secrete a semi-automatic .380 pistol on his person. After leaving the scene with both suspects, Officer Gaddis stopped to make a telephone call, believed to have been to confer with the District Attorney's Intake Office over charges he intended to file on both suspects. During this phone call while Tamayo and Mendoza were alone, but in the sight of Officer Gaddis, according to Mendoza, Tamayo spoke of shooting his way out of this situation. He was able to get the pistol in his handcuffed hands behind his back.

When Officer Gaddis drove south on Chimney Rock in the block north of Holly, Tamayo was able to turn himself around in the rear seat and place the pistol right up against the Plexiglas barrier and fire it six times.

Later, investigating officers asked themselves: Now, what person in his right mind would believe he could shoot the driver of a car with your hands cuffed behind you in a locked backseat, and still be able to escape safely?

The actions of Tamayo rendered Officer Gaddis totally disabled and the police car careened out of control. It crossed a residential yard on the northeast corner of Chimney Rock and Holly, then crossed Holly, and into the yard of the Clay family home. It crashed into the front door at a high rate of speed. The impact injured both Tamayo and Mendoza, but Tamayo was able to then kick out the window glass of the left rear door and escape.

Tamayo fled north on Chimney Rock, but HPD Officer O. R. Warren was southbound on Chimney Rock when he observed what had to have been his sight of a lifetime, a suspect running with his hands cuffed behind his back. Amazingly, this was the man who had just minutes before, murdered Officer Gaddis. The evidence was stronger by the minute: the handcuffs recovered from Tamayo bore Officer Guy Gaddis' employee number, 98834.

An investigation of this enormity cannot be conducted without the professional assistance of support personnel. "By this," Lieutenant Zoch said, "we are speaking not only of the Crime and Firearms Lab professionals, but also of those street 'grunts' that do much of the dirty work, the Crime Scene Units." In this investigation, CSU Officers Beverly Trumble, J. F. Goodfellow, Delinda Wilker, A. K. Williams, W. C. Cates, Ray Collins, Keith Webb, J. L. Kay, and Lorenzo Verbitskey all played important roles in the discovery and recovery of evidence. Firearms Examiner C. E. Anderson performed all of ballistics examinations related to this offense and Latent Print Examiner Chuck Sheldon assisted in the fingerprint examinations.

Edgar Tamayo, an experienced hardened criminal and also an illegal immigrant, had managed to beat the justice system of our great country by purchasing a weapon just days prior to this offense. The justifications in the minds of such people are just amazing.

Tamayo told Escalante that it was the officer's fault for not searching him properly. He said he was searched by two different officers and went on to say that he was angry, managed to get the gun, stood up in the back of the car and shot the officer. He had the gun on his right side when fired the pistol. Further, he said that he had just bought the gun Wal-Mart in Dallas. Mendoza told investigators that at one point Tamayo tried to dry fire his weapon without a bullet in the chamber, but was not able to do so. Tamayo said that it was difficult to do this while handcuffed, but he did it. He seemed proud of his actions.

In October 1994, jury selection began in Judge Mike McSpadden's District Court. The lead prosecutor was District Attorney John B. Holmes, ably assisted by ADA Julian Ramirez. The Plexiglas police car cage had been removed from the car after examination. This same cage, bullet holes and all, was brought into court as further evidence of what happened that night. After the lengthy and tedious capital jury selection, testimony began. On Thursday, October 27, 1994, after a four-day trial, a jury took just thirty minutes to find Edgar Tamayo guilty of capital murder.

Next came the punishment phase of the trial. Now it would be the prosecution's objective to show that Edgar Tamayo was a continuing threat to society as proven by his violent criminal past. An illegal immigrant, he went to California and then to Texas, where he had numerous skirmishes with the law. He was found to have no regard for the laws of the country he chose to call his own. In the continuing investigation, Homicide Detective Rick Maxey and District Attorney's Investigator Johnny Bonds traveled to California, where he found that Tamayo had committed criminal acts for which he had been imprisoned. Witnesses from California as well as officers from the local area were available to testify about his unlawful demeanor. On Tuesday, November 1, 1994, after only three hours of deliberation, the jury determined that Tamayo should be sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Guy Gaddis. Twelve years later he was still on Death Row, hiding behind his appeals. Mendoza, who testified for the prosecution, received a year on the robbery charge and was released after serving his time.

In 2005, Officer Gaddis' daughter Stephanie was ten years old and living in El Paso with her Mother, Rosa, who remarried and the mother of two more daughters. Stephanie visits regularly in Texas with her grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Mr. and Mrs. Gaddis reside in Brookside. Mr. Gaddis is retired from the Houston Fire Department. Brother Glenn is the father of three boys-Justyn, twelve, Taylor, seven, and Shane, five. Brother Gary is the father of two daughters, Abigail, ten, and Mallory, seven. Glenn and Gary both reside in the Pearland area near their parents.

Sergeants Jerry Novak, Larry Webber, Fred Carroll, Larry Ott, D. D. Shirley and Eugene Yanchak are all retired from HPD. Chief Gallemore, Captain Edison and Lieutenant Nelson Zoch also are retired. Rick Maxey is now the lieutenant over what remains of the Zoch murder squad, which still includes Sergeants Hal Kennedy and David Ferguson.

As for the CSU officers, only Verbitsky, Kay and Goodfellow are still active. Officers Wilker, Webb and Collins are retired, Cates passed away, and Trumble and Williams both left the department. As to lab personnel, Anderson is retired while Sheldon is still active. The officer who alertly arrested Tamayo, O. R. Warren, is still assigned to the night shift at the Southwest Station.

The Bellaire police chief retired. Officer Warner, a night shift stalwart for many years in Bellaire, retired and has since passed away. Officer Manning is still with his department. Paramedics Breeding and Lysack both left the Bellaire Fire Department.