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KPD officer surrenders to HHPD

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Posted: Friday, July 1, 2011 12:00 pm

By Philip Jankowski

Killeen Daily Herald

Suspended Killeen Police Department officer Tramel Bracey turned himself in to authorities Thursday morning after a Texas Ranger filed three felony charges against him.

Bracey has been the subject of repeated suspensions and is currently undergoing arbitration on a suspension issued in December in connection to federal Social Security fraud charges that have since been dropped.

Bracey turned himself in to the Harker Heights Police Department Thursday morning. He has been charged with perjury, theft of property and securing documents by deception. He posted $30,000 bond and is not in custody, according to his attorney, John Cullar.

Details about the charges were not available Thursday.

Bracey had just finished an arbitration hearing Wednesday at Killeen City Hall. Lawyers for KPD and Bracey presented their cases to an arbitrator, who will decide whether Bracey can return to work. The department's legal adviser, Jerris Mapes, said the decision will likely be made in September.

Cullar said Thursday that the recent charges filed against Bracey are just another attempt to railroad him.

"I think clearly KPD doesn't want him to return to work, and they're using any excuse to keep him from work," Cullar said.

He said that the latest charges against Bracey were filed by a Texas Ranger, who is a former Killeen police officer. Ranger Jimmie Hatfield was employed by the department until 1998 when he joined the Texas Department of Public Safety.

In a memo from a KPD internal affairs investigator, case agent Jeff Fholer said KPD Chief Dennis Baldwin specifically directed a detective and captain to ask Hatfield to take up the case. Cullar provided the memo and a document listing Hatfield's last day of employment with the department to the Herald.

"Clearly, there are officers, strategically placed officers, that don't want him to return to work," Cullar said.

During the arbitration hearing, one KPD officer was quoted as saying he would never give up on investigating Bracey.

The new charges against Bracey may create cause for an additional suspension and arbitration hearing. It would be his third suspension.

Police administration indefinitely suspended Bracey in October 2009, accusing him of lying and neglect of duty. A woman accused him of exposing himself to her in April 2009 while he was on duty. She reported Bracey spent several hours at her home while on duty. Bracey has denied the woman's accusations.

Bracey protested the suspension and an arbitrator ruled in his favor in May 2010.

He remained on paid administrative leave until the department again suspended him indefinitely in December following an internal affairs investigation that concluded he had broken several statues.

A few days later, a federal grand jury indicted Bracey on Social Security fraud charges. A U.S. attorney dropped those charges in February.

According to Cullar, the charges resulted from an innocent mistake Bracey made while attempting to open a checking account at a local bank. Bracey mistakenly gave a bank teller the Social Security card of his son to place on the account.

On every other form besides the entry made by the teller, Bracey listed his own Social Security number.

Cullar said he is confident the arbitrator will rule in Bracey's favor.

"We feel very good about the way the evidence was presented, and that the city failed to meet the burden of proof to prove the truth to the charges," he said.

Bracey joined the department in 2007. He last served in the department's patrol division.

Contact Philip Jankowski at philipj@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.

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