2 women to appeal lawsuit over Houston rape kit backlog


Two women will appeal a federal judge’s recent dismissal of their class-action lawsuit against Houston and the city’s officials over delays in testing rape kits.

The pair are among about 6,000 women and several hundred minors represented in the 2017 lawsuit who said they were harmed when the Houston Police Department failed to submit rape kits to a crime lab for years. A judge last week ruled the lawsuit was filed too late and didn’t cite any civil rights violations to hold officials responsible.

An attorney for the women, Randall Kallinen, tells the Houston Chronicle the women’s legal claims aren’t too late because they didn’t know about issues with their rape kits until police told them.

The city says private labs eliminated a rape kit backlog in 2013 and 2014.


No charges against Amarillo police officer in fatal shooting


A police officer in the Texas Panhandle will not face charges in the fatal shooting of an assault suspect who authorities say came out of a hotel room and refused to drop a gun.

Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims on Wednesday announced a grand jury declined to indict the Amarillo police officer in the July 25 death.

Amarillo police were seeking Jose Luis Rodriguez on a warrant for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Cpl. Jeb Hilton has said officers saw the suspect, who was carrying a gun, leave a hotel room and then try to hide behind some other people.

Police say Rodriguez ignored orders to drop then gun before being shot by an officer.

The name of the officer wasn’t immediately released.

Dallas police say detective’s cases under review


Dallas police say all cases assigned to an assault detective are under review after a number of cases weren’t handled properly and had “no documented investigative follow-up.”

A department statement Wednesday didn’t specify the number of cases under review, but said the department discovered during an audit that “a number” of cases hadn’t been handled properly or cleared in the agency’s internal reporting system.

A department spokesman says the detective worked in a unit that investigates shootings and other types of assaults. The detective, who wasn’t identified, had been assigned the unit since January 2015.

An internal investigation is underway, and the detective has been placed on restrictive duty and isn’t being assigned any new cases while reviewing past cases with a supervisor.

Driver, 3 immigrants from fake emergency SUV held in Texas


Officers have caught a driver and three immigrants who fled through a South Texas border checkpoint in an SUV falsely decked out as an emergency response vehicle.

Border Patrol Agent Carlos Ruiz said Wednesday that investigators believe it’s a fake fire/emergency medical services vehicle and the driver pretended to be an off-duty employee.

A Border Patrol statement says the white SUV on Tuesday pulled into the Falfurrias checkpoint. The vehicle had numerous markings including “Fire-EMS,” ‘’Call 911” and “Supervisor.”

The vehicle markings did not list any city or county.

Agents were inspecting the SUV when the driver sped off. Agents chased the vehicle, detaining three immigrants from Brazil and the U.S. driver.

Officials didn’t immediately release names of the individuals. The case will be referred for prosecution.


Swan paddleboats at The Woodlands unveiled post-Harvey


A Houston-area community has opted for paddleboats in the shape of swans to replace waterway cruisers damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey nearly a year ago.

The Houston Chronicle reports the long-necked versions were introduced Tuesday at The Woodlands. The 10 pedal-powered swan boats are available for rental on the Waterway Canal.

Officials with The Woodlands Township say the canal is one of the area’s prized assets and popular with tourists and the locals.

The six original waterway cruisers were a mainstay for years. Heavy rain blamed on Harvey essentially destroyed the electrical systems.

Township leaders in December returned just one of those boats to service, but later cited costs and mechanical issues and turned to swan-shaped paddleboats. The new boats were purchased at a cost of $57,000.


Texas school districts to receive letter grades


Texas school districts will soon receive letter grades for the first time as the state prepares to roll out its new accountability system.

The Dallas Morning News reports school district scores on an A-F grading system will be released Aug. 15. The majority of the rating system is based on student performance on achievement tests and their improvement from the year before. Other factors include graduation preparation and student performance from subgroups, including special education.

Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath says the new system will make it easier for families to understand how well their schools are educating their children.

Many school leaders have opposed the system out of fear it’ll unfairly judge schools, particularly in poor communities that struggle to retain teachers and families.

— Associated Press

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