Former police officer in trouble after stumbling into wrong residence

Former police officer in trouble after stumbling into wrong residence

A former Orange Police Department officer who resigned subsequent to being charged with narcotics theft in 2013 was arrested again May 29 after stumbling into a stranger’s residence apparently intoxicated, reports Vidor Police Department Officer Eric Meineke.

According to Meineke’s police report, the officer was dispatched to the 1400 block of South Timberlane in Vidor at about 11 p.m. regarding a male who entered a habitation without the consent of the homeowner. When Meineke arrived, the homeowner told him an unknown male had entered his residence through the front door. The male identified himself as “Taylor” and told the homeowner he was looking for “Adrian.” The homeowner believed the man was intoxicated and asked him to leave before calling the police.

Meineke went in search of the suspect and observed two men standing in a driveway in the 1500 block of Timberlane. One of the men identified himself as “Taylor,” and Meineke asked the man if he had entered a residence that was not his earlier in the evening. The man denied the accusation, stating he had been at his own residence in the 1500 block, where Meineke found him, all night. A woman approached and identified herself as Taylor’s mother, telling the officer her son, 25-year-old Taylor Saleme, had indeed been out walking and had just returned to their residence.

As Meineke questioned Saleme, the suspect denied entering the residence, the officer reported. But when Meineke told Saleme he would have the homeowner and the homeowner’s stepdaughter come out to identify him, Saleme conceded he had entered the residence by mistake while looking for his friend, Adrian.

The witnesses arrived at the location where Meineke was detaining Saleme and identified him as the man who entered their home. Saleme was arrested and taken to the Orange County Jail on trespassing charges.

Saleme, a former officer with OPD, was arrested June 25, 2013, and subsequently prosecuted for narcotics theft for stealing prescription drugs from a fellow officer’s father.

June 12, 2013, OPD received a complaint in reference to the theft of prescription medication, specifically naming then-officer Saleme. During an internal investigation that same day, Saleme resigned from OPD.

Saleme was arrested nearly two weeks later after a warrant signed by Judge David Peck was issued charging the former officer with possession of a controlled substance (hydrocodone), a Class A misdemeanor.

An examination of the probable cause affidavit for Saleme’s arrest revealed that the internal investigation was initiated after a call from the father of a fellow OPD officer. The man told police that he had, on multiple occasions, found he was missing medication. He said on the previous Saturday, June 8, he discovered 39 missing pills. The man originally suspected someone else of the theft and decided in order to catch the thief, he would set a trap. He secretly placed two video cameras at key areas in his home and then set up the bait, a clean pill bottle with 30 doses of hydrocodone, a generic version of the drug commonly known as Vicodin.

June 12 at approximately 11:30 a.m., the man reported that Saleme drove up to his residence while on duty and asked the man to use his restroom, to which the man agreed. Saleme entered the home alone and was the only person in the house at the time. After Saleme left, the man checked the bottle and discovered 21 of the 30 pills missing. He carefully placed the bottle into a plastic bag and turned it over to police, according to the affidavit.

Capt. Cliff Hargrave, who completed the statement for the affidavit of probable cause and has since retired from the force, reported that he received a call from OPD Police Chief Lane Martin regarding a “serious internal investigation.” He arrived at the victim’s home and observed the evidence at the scene.

Hargrave reported that, “The video clearly showed Officer Saleme enter the living room, kneel down at the end of the couch where the medication was located, reach down and do something with his hands, then stand up and exit the living room.”

Saleme was then called into an interview to discuss the accusation.

According to the affidavit, “During the interview, Saleme admitted to stealing a ‘handful’ of pills from (the victim).”

Saleme gave back 13 of the 21 pills, and told officers he had already ingested eight.

At the time of the 2013 theft, Saleme told investigating officers that he previously suffered a shoulder injury and had received at least eight prescriptions from two separate doctors for pain medication, which led to a chemical dependency on the medication. After the interview, Saleme waived his rights and signed a written statement, reported OPD. He was ultimately sentenced to 18 months probation on the narcotics charge.

Saleme was arrested in Bridge City on April 19, 2015 for driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 years old in the vehicle, a state jail felony. A criminal database search revealed Saleme pleaded guilty to the charge and received four years probation. The recent incident violates that probation, which could be revoked.