The HPOU honored Officer Lauren Avila of the Special Victims Division Family Violence Unit as the latest Investigator of the Month.
Officer Avila was recognized for what Sgt. Russell Dukes described as “an outstanding investigative follow-up on an aggravated assault case involving an elderly 77-year-old female.”
In this case, the victim’s 17-year-old grandson threatened her and her pet dog with a brick unless she wrote him a $3,000 check.
Avila later discovered that there were six HPD cases involving the same suspect and victim, who wound up writing the check for fear of physical harm. In addition to this event, the victim told Avila that her grandson, who lived with her, repeatedly pinned her against walls, locked her in her bedroom, chased her around the house, stole her credit cards and car and refused to allow her to see her daughter.
The officer got Adult Protective Services involved in the case, resulting in regular checkups about her welfare. An examination of the victim’s banking records showed checks written to the suspect for more than $2,600 and ATM cash withdrawals of more than $18,000, which the victim said were made under duress.
As a result, the Harris County district attorney filed a charge of continuous aggravated robbery against the suspect/grandson.
The suspect was arrested after a warrant was obtained on April 4. He was placed in the Harris County Jail without bond.
“Officer Avila has consistently displayed a passion to assist victims of domestic violence,” Sgt. Dukes said. “The elderly complainant was terrorized in her own home by her grandson. As a result of Officer Avila’s outstanding investigation, further family violence was prevented, the complainant’s life savings were no longer being depleted and she now can be safe in her own home.”