DALLAS — New questions are surfacing regarding the Dallas County deputy constable who was charged in a bribery-for-sex scheme.
Lt. Howard Watson faces sexual assault and bribery counts as part of an ongoing corruption investigation by the Dallas County grand jury.
But should his boss — Dallas County Precinct 5 Constable Jaime Cortes — have known something was wrong? While Cortes is not accused of committing a crime, a criminal investigation leads to his office.
Howard Watson, one of Cortes' top lieutenants, is charged with allegedly soliciting sex from women whose criminal warrants he offered to destroy.
During a recent News 8 Investigation into Watson's on-duty activities, we observed him make a traffic stop on a female driver using his personal vehicle, which is equipped with flashing emergency police lights.
We watched Watson joke with the female for about five minutes before letting her go without a citation.
Cortes' election opponent Beth Villarreal says the constable lets several of his deputies equip their personal vehicles with emergency lights and equipment. She believes what she saw on News 8's undercover video was a blatant abuse of police power.
"Your agency, your department has to authorize it to be used as an emergency vehicle," Villarreal said. "If so — if you are going to use it in a traffic stop — it needs to have the clear markings of that agency."
While Constable Cortes has declined to comment on Watson's arrest, his spokesman says there was no reason to believe Watson was breaking the law.
"From the time I've talked to Constable Cortes about this, I haven't heard anything negative about the lieutenant," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte. "If these charges are true, then he's going to take the appropriate action."
But should Cortes been more aware of his Watson's activities?
Over the past few weeks, News 8 observed Watson leave work nearly every morning, just minutes after his arrival. He operated mostly out of his personal vehicle, making frequent, on-duty trips to Constable Cortes' residence, which doubles as his campaign headquarters.
News 8 also observed Watson spending numerous business hours away from work and at his apartment.
None of it appears to be part of any criminal investigation, but part of the puzzle surrounding the man in charge.
Beth Villarreal says the Constable lets several of his deputies equip their personal vehicles with emergency lights and equipment.