Longtime Silsbee police officer's firing could compromise Hardin County cases
The prosecution of several Hardin County criminal cases is in jeopardy after a Silsbee police officer was fired for lying, according to Silsbee Police Chief Waylan Rhodes.
Rhodes says he fired Officer David Norton after an internal investigation revealed the policeman had been untruthful, which now raises questions about the cases Norton has investigated, including a capital murder.
Hardin County District Attorney David Sheffield tells us he's disappointed to hear about Norton's firing, since so much trust is put in police officers' credibility as witnesses.
"There is a lot of trust that we place in officers and I'm very proud, by in large, that we don't have these kind of problems with officers because we do rely on their word," Sheffield said.
Norton, who had been an officer at Silsbee PD for 32 years, has investigated many criminal cases Sheffield is in charge of prosecuting. Some are closed, others are pending.
But the district attorney says they could be in jeopardy.
"If the case is totally made solely or totally on the word of the officer, it could substantially weaken the case to the point you cannot prosecute," Sheffield said. "It puts certain obligations on us to notify the courts, defense counsel, and others that this officer's credibility has been drawn into question."
In a letter to Sheffield, Rhodes wrote that Norton had knowingly lied in his official capacity.
Among the cases concerning Sheffield is a capital murder Norton investigated involving a Silsbee man accused of killing his 9-month-old son.
But the DA says it's too early to tell what effect Norton's situation will have on any particular case because he says Chief Rhodes has yet to provide him with any details about what led to Norton's firing.
Rhodes told us he was not releasing the details about Norton's firing because of possible legal action.
Sheffield said Rhodes told him the DA's office would be notified of exactly what happened some time next week.
When we reached out to Norton, he told us he's waiting to speak to his attorney and his employment status remains on appeal with the city of Silsbee.
You can read the chief's letter to the district attorney here: