HPD officer suspended in tear gas incident at rodeo By JAMES PINKERTON
March 1, 2011, 8:10PM
A veteran Houston police officer participating with a cooking team at the Houston rodeo's Bar-B-Que cook-off has been relieved of duty for reportedly tossing a tear gas canister at booth opponents during the popular event, apparently sickening several patrons.
The tear gas also reached a tent occupied by several military veterans including some amputees in wheelchairs.
Senior police officer Mike Hamby, 51, was relieved of duty with pay on Monday while he is under investigation for "criminal allegations," said HPD spokeswoman Jodi Silva. The nature of the allegations against Hamby are under investigation by the internal affairs division and will not be disclosed, Silva said.
It's unclear why the tear gas was used. An HPD investigator familiar with the incident who did not want to be identified said Hamby was off-duty and participating with a cook-off team when he allegedly threw the canister into the booth of an opposing cook-off team. Hamby did not respond to several messages left on his phone.
Susie Barlow, director of the USO center in Houston, confirmed several of her organization's guestswere in a tent affected by the gas Friday night.