Aikens, 46, was arrested as he got off duty this morning at the HPD Central Jail on Riesner.
FBI agents and Internal Affairs Division officers took his gun from him, along with his car keys, as they arrested him on felony charges of abusing his badge and possessing cocaine.
Assistant US Attorney Jim McAlister said Aikens was under FBI surveillance when he used his patrol car to escort and protect a shipment of 7-kilos of cocaine during a sting operation last month.
He’s accused of accepting a $2,000 bribe in exchange for providing security for the supposed drug couriers, but those pushers were actually undercover agents taking part in the sting. There was no other dope involved, McAlister said.
Two hours after his arrest, Aikens was brought before US Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy for his initial appearance, where he said he expects to lose his job over this.
Sgt. Aikens will also lose his apartment, he said, because he told the judge he was living rent-free at an apartment complex on Antoine in northwest Houston, in exchange for providing security at the complex.
Such security arrangements are common within HPD and most other law enforcement agencies in the Houston area.
Aikens posted a $50,000 unsecured bond, which means he was released from custody without forking over a dime.
Judge Milloy allowed him to spend a few days removing his furniture from his free apartment, but she ordered him to live with his sister in Houston pending the outcome of his trial.
Aikens, who joined the Houston Police force in June 1992, was earning nearly $55,000 base salary according to recent city payroll records. But he told the judge today he only had $2,500 in the bank and could not afford to hire a lawyer.
The judge appointed a public defender to represent him, but ordered him to cough up $1,000 to defer some of the cost.
As he stood before the judge, his hands were crossed behind his back and he could be seen fidgeting with his fingers as the judge spoke to him.
When she asked if he wanted to invoke his right to remain silent, Aikens answered, “At this time, yes ma’am.”
He told the judge he may have left a weapon in his personal vehicle parked outside the jail, and Milloy responded, “Get your keys and get that weapon secure. If you have a weapon, I will revoke your bond.”
The sergeant said he understood.
He said he wasn’t sure the weapon was still inside his car because, “I’m assuming they took it out…..They asked me at the time where my gun belt was,” Aikens said of his arrest.
HPD Headquarters said he was placed on Relieved of Duty status with pay upon his arrest, which means he has no police authority while he’s out of jail on bond.
He was scheduled for arraignment on Thursday, August 4th, when the judge said he could enter a plea of not guilty. He faces 2 felony indictments that could bring 30-years in prison if he’s found guilty. He’s charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Cocaine, and a violation of the Hobbs Act, which means using the color of authority for corruption.
Inside the federal courthouse, deputy US Marshals expressed anger at someone tarnishing the badge. One deputy marshal who used to be an HPD officer said, “He’s a piece of s—. He affects our badges and everyone with a badge with this.”
Fellow HPD officers said a review of the department’s Internal Affairs history shows Sgt. Aikens has been suspended from duty without pay for a total of 87-days, which is an astonishing number.
Suspensions without pay are levied only after Internal Affairs investigations are completed and wrongdoing has been confirmed by the department. It was unclear how many sustained violations of departmental rules accounted for that 87-days worth of suspensions, and it was unclear if he had overturned any of those suspensions by filing appeals.
One HPD supervisor pointed out that Aikens was promoted to the rank of sergeant within the past year or so, despite the lengthy list of violations of police department policy.
In court Aikens said he has a 17-year-old daughter who lives with her mother. He was paying $600 per month in child support, he told the judge, so she ordered him to find another job within the next 10-days.
He was arrested in uniform, but Marshals said he was being released without his HPD shirt on. He was told to wear his undershirt only when he walked out of the courthouse to meet his superiors who had confiscated his car keys.
Aikens also asked prosecutors to return his cell phone. “That’s the only phone I have,” he said, adding that it had numbers stored for calling family members to alert them to his arrest.
Prosecutors said other arrests were possible as agents continued trying to crack the drug-operation that prompted the undercover sting. There were no other officers arrested, and prosecutors said they did not know of any other officers who were suspected of helping the drug ring that led to the sting.