Harold McMillan: Austin Art/Music Mainstay Says He Got Roughed Up by HPD Officer at Memorial Hermann

Categories: Whatever

HM4.jpg
Photo courtesy Harold McMillan
Harold McMillan says he went to Memorial Hermann to get his dead brother's stuff, but just got roughed up by a police officer instead.

Harold McMillan is considered a gentle soul by those who know him, which is why it was out of character for him to drop the f-bomb in an exchange with a Memorial Hermann hospital guest-relations employee last week -- a poor choice of wording that, he says, resulted in him being forced face-first to the floor and arrested by a Houston police officer.

McMillan, the founder of the Austin nonprofit DiverseArts Culture Works, says he was at Memorial Hermann's Texas Medical Center location to retrieve the wallet of his brother, who had died of a heart attack a week earlier.

McMillan says he had spoken with someone at the hospital's guest services department, who told him that he could retrieve his brother's wallet at a security checkpoint near the emergency room, and that they'd have all the necessary paperwork. McMillan says he was told he could pick up the wallet any time -- the area was staffed around the clock.

But McMillan says it didn't quite go as smoothly as he had planned: He says he first spoke to security guards who couldn't find any documentation relating to his brother, so McMillan asked to speak with a supervisor. He says the supervisor told him, "We found his stuff but we're not authorized to give it to you."

McMillan suggested calling the woman in guest services he had previously spoken with, or someone else from that department.

"At that point, he started chastising me about my bad attitude," McMillan tells Hair Balls. He says the supervisor was "very disrespectfully talking down to me," and saying that he had no way of knowing if McMillan was authorized to take the wallet.

After some back and forth, which McMillan says involved him repeatedly asking to speak to the supervisor's supervisor, and the supervisor getting more frustrated that McMillan was questioning his authority and job abilities, McMillan was so perturbed that he said, "Why don't you stop acting like a fucking cop, and just let me talk to the supervisor."

Well, that did it.

The next thing that happened, according to McMillan, was that a few uniformed security guards and a Houston police officer emerged from behind the checkpoint door, with the officer telling McMillan, "We need to talk to you back here."

That's when McMillan apparently made Mistake Number Two: he asked the officer, "Can you just tell me why you need to talk to me?"

Well, that did it.

"The next thing I know, he's got his arms...through my arms and my back...and I'm up off the ground," McMillan says. The cop, per McMillan, walked him through the door, admonishing him not to "resist," and then, "the next thing I know, he slammed me to the floor, face first."

McMillan says that, while he was asking the officer if he was under arrest, and what the charge might be, the supervisor told him that this probably wouldn't have happened if McMillan didn't have a bad attitude. He also suggested that it may have turned out totally different, McMillan says, if McMillan had been wearing a suit, or at least a shirt and tie, instead of his cargo shorts and flip-flops.

McMillan was escorted to jail and charged with "interference with public duties," a misdemeanor. Specifically, the charging document reads that McMillan interfered with the officer's duty by "refusing to follow verbal commands, pulling his hands away, and refusing to put his hands behind his back."

Alex Rodriguez, Memorial Hermann's director of communications, says she was not aware of the details of the exchange between McMillan and the hospital employee.

Location Info

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Texas Medical Center

2450 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General

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8 comments
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Madeleine Sosin
Madeleine Sosin

This story is disgusting! This is a clear case of racism. I want the names of the guest services woman, the security guard & HPD officer. I want to write a letter to the hospital & HPD. Just because this goes on all the time in many many places doesn't mean we should stand for it!!!! Knowing about it brings the responsibility to do something about it.

laura
laura

Obviously, there is a real problem with the Houston Police Department.  I am not saying all the apples in the basket are bad, but the rotten ones need to be removed.  It is sad to see when some people are given authority and a gun, it becomes too much for them to handle. 

Doc Scientist
Doc Scientist

This story is repulsive, HPD already has an image problem this sort of thing won't help them gain the trust of the public. Cursing out an officer should only result in being "politely" escorted out of the building, not an ass beating.

@JEPruitt
@JEPruitt

the whole problem with this story is....nothing will ever come of it. Ever. NY and Oakland and LA and everywhere else may get "occupied " and protests may happen and officers and officials get in trouble and things change and blahbety freaking blah...in Houston HPD and Harris County beat your ass...with impunity, without fear of reprisal. Getting a cop's name and badge number doesn't mean a damn thing in this city. No matter the mayor or police chief...this is the same crooked police force that's always been here. I feel bad for ya bro, losing your brother and then getting arrested had to have put massive stress on you...best wishes.

@The_Hit_Man
@The_Hit_Man

Houston has a serious authority issue. Most people I know won't even call Hpd when they need help because there's always a chance of the situation getting worse. Apparently the program that officers go through in Houston is in close regards to marshal law. They do what they want when they want. If you get in their way they will take you out. I've met nicer soldiers returning home with their heads filled with carnage. Right seems to be all mixed up in wrong.

Anon
Anon

Not that it makes any of this okay, but a similar thing happened to me when I lived in Austin many years ago.  The APD, at the time, were being very aggressive with people on 6th Street.  I was roughed up and taken to the police station for refusing to move on a very packed sidewalk when the bars let out at 2am.  They called it "disobeying a lawful order".  Fighting this kind of thing internally, unfortunately, is absolutely fruitless.  The mention of Harold's manner of dress is telling.  I was "taken down" for wearing all black and looking like a PIB (it was the 80's).  Profiling of all persuasions absolutely must stop.  And people need to learn how to deal with people who ask questions and are frustrated - instead of victimizing them.  I am so sorry to hear of Mr. McMillan's loss and how horribly he and his niece were treated.

A Previous Victim
A Previous Victim

Do we have the HPD officer's name? Something VERY similar to this happened to myself while attending my wife's college graduation. I have the police report and the bully's -- excuse me, I mean cop's -- name, and thanks to him I'm out $325 and I now have an overnight jail visit on my name. All of my head injuries have healed though, so I guess THAT'S a good thing...?

A Previous Victim
A Previous Victim

All of these situations sound terrible, but I was just wondering if anybody had found out the officer's name so I could see if it was the same guy that beat me up and threw me in jail (for the very same reason, which shouldn't be a crime in the first place, assuming there even IS such a law). If it actually DOES turn out to be the same cop, then the guy that ruined my wife's graduation goes from having an isolated incident to CONTINUOUSLY abusing his authority and should be reprimanded. I would love to file a complaint, if I knew something productive may come from it instead of just being filed away somewhere without so much as a glance, which is what I fear.

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