James Mabe had a heart attack behind the wheel of his pickup truck on the side of a Texas City road. When former police officer Linnard R. Crouch arrived at the scene, he proceeded to open the driver’s side door and found the man hunched over and unresponsive. So, he collected the few essential items the man had on him at the time of his death and put them in a plastic baggie to take to his family.
When he handed the bag to Linda Mabe in the emergency room, she accepted it, noting her late husband’s wallet, photo identification, and cell phone were all there. She also noted a stack of money, which she had assumed was the $2400 she had given him earlier that day to be used for family Christmas shopping. She thanked the officer.
It wouldn’t be until Linda and her son, Michael, returned home later that evening that they would realize the stack of money was merely a hundred dollar bill covering a few singles. The $2,400 was missing, and Linda immediately thought Officer Crouch had something to do with it.
“As my husband clung to life, a police officer who is charged by law to protect and serve robbed my husband when he needed help the most,” Linda said at a press conference after obtaining an internal memo from the Texas City Police Department on January 17th that supports the family’s belief Crouch robbed them. They have filed a lawsuit against the officer and Texas City alleging Crouch performed an illegal search and seizure on James Mabe in violation of the Fourth Amendment. “I am overwhelmed and shocked that my husband was victimized by an officer of the law at such a critical and vulnerable time. What happened to Jim haunts me daily. I can’t accept it,” she continued.
The memo serves as an exhibit in the lawsuit. Even more damning is camera footage showing that Crouch “removed money from Mr. Mabe’s right front pocket he appears not to have reported,” according to Assistant Chief Joe Stanton. Stanton insisted the case go to the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office’s Public Integrity Unit for further review.
For six months, the family was left in the dark about the status of their case and whether or not it was even still open. Last Thursday, however, the Texas City police department finally issued a press release. In the statement, the department states Crouch had been reprimanded by his superiors on multiple occasions for failure to use his body camera and for his less-than-stellar record-keeping. He resigned back on January 30th. Crouch “is facing criminal charges of Theft and Possession of Controlled Substance”, although what type of substance was not specified. He has not been charged with any crimes and is still under investigation. Whether this “investigation” relates to the James Mabe case or solely to possession is yet to be determined.
The Mabe family’s attorney, Randall Kallinen, said it’s ludicrous the lawsuit has dragged on this long and that his clients still don’t have a clear indication as to whether the officer is even still being investigated or the case is still open. “If that was you or I,” said the Mabe family’s attorney, Randall Kallinen, “we would have been arrested the next day.”