Shake and Bake Explosion: “AN UKNOWN SOURCE OF HEAT”
Waco – Kevin Fisk, the former Lieutenant in charge of arson investigations at the Waco Fire Department, is seeking a quarter million dollars in compensatory damages in a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that Waco Police detectives obstructed justice, lied, and covered up evidence in a murder by arson investigation of a 2012 Bosqueville trailer explosion.
Fire Department executives and City officials stripped him of his status as a peace officer, such perquisites as a city car, and his badge and pistol when they forced a Civil Service Commission order for a mental fitness evaluation in a hearing held on October 8, 2015.
A legal glitch caused a delay in fitness for duty certification, according to the lawsuit filed in the 66th Judicial District of Hill County, and Fisk was returned to unrestricted duty on June 27, 2016, only to learn “denial of the lead arson investigator position…removal of Plaintiff’s duties as peace officer, accompanied by denial of any badge credentials or identification associated with his being a peace officer,” according to the suit. Fisk was returned to “a reduced-duty position as of August 1, 2016.”
Fisk’s attorneys filed suit on August 12.
Police and fire executives had long been at cross purposes in the investigation Fisk was working on when he was suspended pending a psychiatric evaluation.
During the ensuing years, arson investigators concluded that the explosion, which was so violent that when firefighters arrived within minutes, the cooling water they sprayed on the trailer turned to steam and scalded them, resulted due to an act of arson.
Police, on the other hand, on October 2, 2012 announced they had closed their investigation of murder “after exhausting all leads in the case,” according to Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton. A K9 team could turn up no evidence of accelerants.
“At this point, there’s nowhere else that we can go with it. We can always open it back up,” he told media outlets.
During his investigation of an explosion that claimed the lives of Ashley Dawn Rogers and two of her children in a N. 19th St. Bosqueville trailer park on February 16, 2012, Fisk relates, police made an “apparent unlawful seizure of evidence in the form of videos (and/or digital devices containing such videos) of an arson incident in which individuals within a home lost their lives.”
One child, two-year-old Kaiden Megginson, survived the blast when an 8-year-old neighbor boy pried a hole in a shattered partition and pulled him to safety during the first few moments after the explosion. Ms. Rogers, 27, Madison Megginson, 3, and Gage Megginson, 8 months, perished of thermal burns and smoke inhalation.
According to an arson report authored by Fire Marshal Kevin Vranich, “an unknown source of heat” at the open door of the trailer suddenly ignited the entire dwelling and totally involved the structure in fire within moments. The only exit door had been fastened by sheet rock screws as an expedient remedy to keep the children from opening the door and falling to the ground below in the absence of rear porch steps, it was learned.
In his legal petition, Fisk further reported that “a police officer with the city of Waco Police Department…was ‘taking care’ of a forgery case on the basis of a ‘quid pro quo’ arrangement between an officer and suspect reflected in text messages sent between a police officer using a City-issued cell phone, and a suspect in an investigation.”
Fisk said in an e-mail Tuesday night, “I believe, without any doubt, that Ashley Rogers and her two children were murdered.”
By covering up the evidence he obtained in his investigation, he alleges in his suit, the Police officials and their superiors at City Hall violated various sections of the Texas Government Code, and the resulting treatment he received violated provisions of the collective bargaining agreements hammered out by the Civil Service regulations of the City of Waco.
Reports of legal violations are protected under the Texas Government Code. For this reason, “it is illegal for a state or local government entity to suspend or terminate the employment of, or take any adverse personnel action against, a public employee who in good faith reports a violation of law by the empoying governmental entity or another public employee to an appropriate law enforcement authority,” according to the suit.
“Notwithstanding the prohibition of (Texas Government Code) Sect. 554.002(a), on account of Plaintiff’s protected reports, Defendant imposed a series of adverse personnel actions upon Plaintiff, including initially, beginning on October 1, 2014, an attempt to have Plaintiff make a false worker’s compensation claim, an attempt to force an unplanned psychological evaluation outside the scope of pertinent civil service rules governing such evaluation, formal written removal of investigative responsibilities and threat of further disciplinary action, termination of access to police records and building, verbal and written reprimands issued by the City of Waco Fire Department, false accusation of misconduct, forced cessation of communications with certain City of Waco Poice Department and City of Waco Fire Department employees, and suspension of Plaintiff’s employment with the City of Waco pending a purportedly necessary fitness-for-duty examination. Plaintiff’s employment was continued under suspension with the City of Waco despite a fitness-for-duty certification by Plaintiff’s own treating medical provider. That certification was in bad faith challenged by the city of Waco.”
Ashley Dawn Rogers’ children