Fallen Heroes: Officer Troy Blando

Nelson Zoch

May 19, 1999

Troy Alan Blando was born in Bussac, France, on July 31, 1959, to Mr. and Mrs. Alvin (Della) Blando. Being the son of a career United States military man, Troy traveled extensively in his early years. He attended elementary and junior high school in San Antonio and graduated from Roosevelt High School in the Alamo City in 1977. For several years after high school, he attended Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.

In 2007, the extended Blando family remained intact. Mother Della lived near Fort Worth with Troy’s sister, Vicki Sinwell. Vicki, as well as Bobi, Mike and Tracy all still mourn the death of brother Troy.

On May 15, 2013, the sentence against Jeffery Demond Williams was properly and justly carried out when he was executed by the State of Texas for murdering one of Houston’s finest, Officer Troy Blando.

In the usual professional manner of HPD Homicide investigators, Brown and Swaim obtained utmost cooperation from the suspect. Jeffrey Williams confessed to the whole brutal ordeal, while accusing Officer Blando of disrespecting him and physically abusing him – a routine line from someone fully aware of the fact that he has just committed the final criminal act of his life. After being caught in several other falsehoods, Williams admitted to having taken the stolen Lexus two months previous in an armed robbery of a female. And, more importantly, Williams acknowledged in his confession that he knew that the plainclothes man who confronted him was a police officer.

Before the day was over, the suspect was in jail and charged with capital murder of a peace officer. Homicide Sergeants Carless Elliott and David Calhoun were assigned the gruesome task of attending Blando’s autopsy. They were accompanied by CSU Officers Leroy Tuttle and G. H. West. They needed to tie up a number of loose ends and Sergeants Ladd and Swaim and their partners, Miller and Brown, performed these duties in due time.

Officer Troy Blando was survived by his wife Judith Blando and his thirteen- year-old son, Danny Blando. Other survivors were his mother, Mrs. Della Blando; two brothers, Mike Blando and Tracy Blando; and two sisters, Vicki Sinwell and Bobi Blando; and a number of nephews.

 

Visitation was held at the Pat H. Foley Funeral Home at 1200 W. 34th on Saturday, May 22, 1999, from noon until 9 p.m. and then on Sunday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Funeral services were held at the Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, on Monday, May 24 at 10 a.m.  Services were conducted by the Reverend David Dixon, Pastor Fred H. de Oliveira, Deacon F. Jay Vocelka and HPD Chaplain Edwin Davis. Interment followed at Woodlawn Garden of Memories, Antoine and Katy Freeway.

Pallbearers for Officer Troy Blando were Robert W. Irving Jr., Kenneth A Hilleman, Victor Midyett, Dennis E. Holmes, Michael D. Ingels, Collin P. Gerlich, Thomas C. Civitello and Craig L. Newman.

To police officers who attend the memorial services for fellow officers killed in the line of duty, usually some facet of the service seems to always stand out as something special to remember. Officer Troy Blando was a Boy Scout troop leader for his son Danny’s troop. To witness the other adult troop leaders and Danny’s fellow Scouts march out after the funeral service without troop leader Troy Blando was an unforgettable sight. What a loss, not only to HPD, but to these young men that Officer Blando served to inspire.

With the death of any police officer, Homicide investigators consider the deceased to be one of their own. In this case, most of the investigators had known Officer Troy Blando since his CSU days. Thus, this came very close to home. However, the investigation had to continue with many loose ends to wrap up tight for the prosecution.

After the initial shock of the murder and subsequent funeral, the work continued.  Support personnel who assisted were Firearms Examiner Mike Lyons and Latent Print Examiner Debbie Benningfield. The weapon recovered from the suspects was positively identified as the one that fired the fatal shot. Jeffrey Williams was placed by prints in the Lexus as well as in Officer Blando’s Jeep.

The capital murder trial of Jeffery Demond Williams was held in the Criminal District Court of State District Judge Carol Davies. Assistant District Attorneys Lyn McClellan and Denise Nassar were in charge of the prosecution. Williams was found guilty and on February 9, 2000, he was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the capital murder of Officer Troy Alan Blando.

Mrs. Judith Blando and son Danny moved from Houston to Meridian, Texas. Danny graduated from Meridian High School in 2004 and attended Tarleton State College for a time before deciding to enter the United States Navy. Judith, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, remained confined to a wheelchair but in good spirits. She spends some time in her home state of Michigan.

Troy came to the Houston Police Department on July 2, 1979 to enter Police Cadet Class No. 87. He took his oath of office as an HPD officer on November 3, 1979. He wore Badge No. 2336. His earliest assignment was to Central Patrol, where he served a short time before becoming a member of the Crime Scene Unit. Once the unit was transferred to be under the Homicide Division, Troy became a well known and highly respected member of the crime scene unit.

The department later assigned him to the Inspections Division, the Westside Command Center and the Chief’s Administration under Police Chief Elizabeth Watson. While Troy did exceptional work in all his assignments, it seemed that he truly found his niche when in 1993, he was selected for assignment as a police officer investigator in the Auto Theft Division.

On Wednesday, May 19, 1999, Auto Theft Investigator Troy Blando was driving a city-owned unmarked vehicle, a 1995 green Jeep Cherokee. This vehicle was equipped with an MDI and he was searching the motels along the 6800 block of the Southwest Freeway for stolen vehicles. He was at the Roadrunner Motel, a location he previously had found to be ripe for searching for recoveries.

While stopped in the motel parking lot, Blando observed a new model Lexus pass by driven by an African-American male. Checking the plate, the officer learned that this vehicle had been stolen in an armed robbery several months ago. At 9:07 a.m., he reported his location to the dispatcher and stated that he had spotted an occupied stolen and wanted vehicle. Several bicycle patrol officers, L. J. Satterwhite and A. K. Hawkins, were nearby and overheard Blando’s transmission and location. Riding from the 6400 block of Bellaire, they headed in Blando’s direction.

At 9:11 a.m., they were at the Southwest Freeway at Hornwood when they heard ten to twelve gunshots coming from the direction of the Roadrunner. Just seconds later, the voice of Officer Blando came over the police radio, stating that he had been shot. He also provided a description of the suspect. Within thirty seconds, Officers Hawkins and Satterwhite arrived to see Troy Blando seated in his Jeep, pointing toward the motel courtyard.

Hawkins and Satterwhite did what officers are trained to do. They split up, with Hawkins staying back to attend to Officer Blando while Satterwhite attempted to pursue the suspect, having been directed by citizens who had seen a partially handcuffed man racing away. This assistance led him to the Celebration Station amusement center at 6787 Southwest Freeway.

Other officers in patrol cars began arriving at the scene. They assisted Officer Satterwhite with the arrest of a suspect who had one handcuff on his left hand. He was also armed with the weapon used to shoot Officer Blando.

Back at the scene, Officer Hawkins had made the Assist the Officer call. Officer Blando was shot in the chest and there was a visible exit wound to his back. He had returned fire at the suspect with his .380 automatic, but had not hit him. There were numerous 9mm hulls around the scene, indicating that the suspect had fired a number of times during the shootout.

Officer Blando was bleeding internally. The delay in rushing him to a hospital became the subject of a massive investigation into the Houston Fire Department’s dispatching procedures.  The contention was that Blando had received injuries that could have been better treated, perhaps saving his life, had an ambulance arrived sooner. Eventually, the HFD ambulance transported him to Ben Taub General Hospital.

Homicide Captain Richard Holland assigned Lieutenant Greg Neely to lead this investigation. Lieutenant Neely assigned Sergeant Jim Ladd and his partner, Officer Todd Miller, to make the scene and be the primary investigative unit. Assigned to assist them were Sergeant John Swaim and his partner, Officer Alan Brown. Sergeant Paul Motard went to Ben Taub to interview the wounded officer. However, Motard soon learned that Officer Blando was in critical condition, undergoing surgery. The treatment was just too late. Blando had suffered a fatal loss of blood. Doctors pronounced him dead at 10:23 a.m. The veteran of almost twenty years with HPD was dead at age thirty-nine.

The motel parking lot that had been the scene of the offense was no small area to process.  In addition, there was the scene of the arrest. Four Crime Scene Units responded on this weekday to assist in the most important task of Homicide investigators – to properly locate and document all items of evidence pertinent to the offense at these scenes.

Contributing in this effort were CSU Officers Larry Baimbridge, J. C. Wood, and A. G. Riddle, all of whom took part in the scene investigations. Officer D. H. Couch undertook the hospital investigation, while Officers L. Tuttle, J. A. Ogden, J. S. Hammerle, and G. H. West all participated in some manner throughout the detailed investigation.

Other than the radio transmissions from Officer Blando, investigators were left to piece together the much-needed evidence of the tragic event of this day. While there were no actual eyewitnesses, a number of people in and around the motel heard and/or saw bits and parts of the offense. The main information was the fleeing suspect from the scene of the shooting, which Officer Hawkins was able to obtain in more detail from Officer Blando. He in turn passed it on to the responding units.

The arrested suspect, Jeffrey Demond Williams (African-American Male; 23) ironically provided many answers to investigators’ questions. Officer L. J. Satterwhite, ably assisted by Officers J. M. McPhail, J. E. Draycott, J. R. Martinez, B. J. McDonald and Sergeant G. B. Raschke, arrested Williams with not only the weapon he used to shoot Officer Blando but also with a totally undisputable piece of evidence – Officer Troy Blando’s handcuffs on one of his wrists. The officers took him back to a location near the scene of the shooting, where Lieutenant Neely assigned Officer Alan Brown and Sergeant John Swaim to personally take custody of the suspect and transport him to 1200 Travis for further interviews.