HPD Chief: ‘Wait and See’ In Police Shooting Of Disabled Man

City leaders are asking the community to reserve judgment in the case of a wheelchair-bound man who was shot by a Houston police officer at a group home over the weekend. The mentally challenged man was a double amputee who threatened to kill the officers and his house mates.

Even as some community groups are calling for reforms in the Houston Police Department, HPD’s chief and some Houston councilmembers are asking people not to judge too quickly.

HPD’s police report states the man, who was missing one leg and part of one arm, was waving a shiny object and backed one officer into a corner.  

The other officer shot and killed him.  

The object the man was holding turned out to be a silver ballpoint pen.

HPD Chief Charles McClelland issued a statement asking the community to reserve judgment until all the facts and evidence in the case have been gathered.

Houston Councilmember and former HPD Chief Brad Bradford says that’s the right response.

“Until we receive the officer’s statement and the investigation has run its course, we simply don’t know what was in the officer’s mind or what precipitated the shooting. And whether it was, in fact, justifiable or not, that is simply unknown at this point in time.”

Bradford says HPD’s officers are well trained and the department goes beyond minimum requirements for state-mandated training.

Houston Councilmember Ed Gonzalez also served as an HPD officer for 18 years. He says although people in the community are upset about the incident, he also urges them not to jump to conclusions.

“Well I definitely understand the concerns and the perhaps frustrations and the difficulty of sometimes processing all this information. I will just caution, perhaps because I’ve seen the other side of it, it’s a thorough investigation that’s undertaken, everything is reviewed very carefully and it’s important at times not to rush to judgment immediately.”

Gonzalez says unrelated to this incident, city councilmembers are already in the process of putting together an ordinance to regulate group homes. Dallas and El Paso already have group home regulations and San Antonio is working on an ordinance after a fire at a group home for mentally disabled men killed four people.

“Some of these homes many times occupy up to 20 people, for example, in very poor living conditions. So the intent is not to close any of them down, but to understand where they’re at, how can we at least create a basic platform of what they should be required to have. We’re just following suit with what other cities have already done and what municipalities are allowed to do, which is come up with a basic set of standards.”

Meanwhile, Civilians Down, a grassroots police-watchdog group, and the Texas Civil Rights Project are calling on HPD for better training and vetting of officers as well as an independent investigation of the shooting.

HPD Chief McClelland says standard procedure is for HPD and the Harris County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division to conduct investigations in officer-involved shootings. He has asked the local office of the FBI to monitor and investigate as well.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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