It could be several more weeks before Pasadena police wrap-up their investigation into last month’s shooting deaths of two burglars by a neighbor. As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, it’s not unusual for authorities to take their time when it comes to high profile cases like the one involving Joe Horn.
By now, you’ve probably heard the dramatic 9-1-1 tape from November 14th, when Horn called police to report two men breaking into his neighbor’s home.
Horn: “They stole something. They got a bag.”
Dispatcher: “Mr. Horn, do not go outside the house.”
Horn: “I’m sorry. This ‘ain’t right buddy.”
Dispatcher: “You’re gonna get yourself shot if you go outside of that house.”
Horn: “You wanna make a bet?”
Dispatcher: “Stay in the house.”
Horn: “They’re getting away.”
Just a few seconds later Horn killed both men with a shot gun, sparking what has turned into an international debate over when people can use lethal force to protect themselves, their property and even their neighbor’s property.
Horn: “Move. You’re dead.” (Sound of gunshots)
It’s been more than three weeks since the shootings and Pasadena police still haven’t concluded their investigation. Police Captain Bud Corbett says the department is still working on a quality control review, which could take several more weeks.
“It’s just a matter of making sure that information gaps are minimized and there aren’t any information conflicts and it’s a matter of making certain all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed.”
Once the department concludes its review, it will turn its case folder over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office for review. The DA’s office will then present the case to a grand jury, which could either indict or no-bill Horn. Corbett says the department has gotten dozens of calls from the public, mostly in support of Joe Horn.
“Really, it doesn’t make any difference to us what the public thinks or whether they’re in support of Mr. Horn or not. There feedback of course is interesting, but what really matters is what the grand jury thinks when it’s all said and done.”
Adam Gershowitz is an assistant law professor at South Texas College of Law and says it’s in the police department’s best interest to thoroughly review the shootings before it forwards the case to the DA’s office.
“They’re much better off being very careful in getting as much of the factual information locked-down as they can before proceeding to a grand jury because it certainly looks bad if they go to a grand jury and it either indicts or doesn’t indict and new facts trickle out that weren’t available to the grand jury in the first place.”
Texas passed what is known as the Castle Doctrine in September, a law that enhances a homeowners or business owners right to use lethal force against an intruder. The law’s author, San Antonio State Senator Jeff Wentworth told KUHF that the law doesn’t apply to a neighbor’s home, although he says there are other laws already on the books that could apply to that scenario.