Ferguson shooting reverberates in Bayou City
A SPECIAL COMMUNITY REPORT BY ROBERT STANTON
he police gunfire that echoed through a Ferguson, Mo., neighborhood in August, killing an unarmed black teenager, reverberated around the world. The gunshots that ended the 18-year-old’s life also resonated in the Houston area, which has seen its share of questionable police shootings and reported beatings of citizens – especially of African-American and Hispanic descent. Michael Brown, 18, was unarmed when he was fatally shot Aug. 9 by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. The shooting sparked riots, protests, looting and clashes with police, who patrolled the streets with military-grade weapons and equipment. A St. Louis County, Mo. jury comprised of nine white and three African Americans is pouring over evidence in the case. To be sure, Missouri is certainly not the only state with high-profile and questionable police activities. In May 1977, Joe Campos Torres, a 23-year-old Vietnam veteran, was arrested in an East End bar after a disturbance. Campos, who was wearing his Army fatigues and combat boots, drowned after he was beaten by Houston police officers and thrown into Buffalo Bayou. The officers were convicted of negligent homicide in state district court and placed on a year’s probation. Federal charges resulted in prison sentences of a year and a day for civil rights violations, and a decade of probation for conspiracy, according to The Houston Chronicle. In September 2012, two Houston police officers responded to a disturbance call at Healing Hands, a residential group home in central Houston for men with mental illnesses. Brian Claunch, a mentally ill, wheelchair-bound double amputee, was shot and killed when he waved a shiny object that turned out to be a ballpoint pen.
Two other former officers charged in the A Harris County grand jury last year Holley case pleaded no contest and were declined to indict the officer who fired the fatal shot. sentenced to two year’s probation. A fourth ex-officer was acquitted in May Last June, a former Hous2012. ton police officer was convicted Most recently, a federal magisof official oppression for his role trate on Aug. 17, 2014, set a in the 2010 beating of Elsik September 2015 trial date for High School sophomore Chad Robbie Tolan’s lawsuit against Holley, who was a suspect in a Bellaire police over a 2008 shootburglary. ing that wounded him in his parIn a security videotape of ent’s driveway in that city. the March 2010 arrest, Holley Bellaire police Sgt. Jeff is seen falling to the ground MUHAMMAD Cotton was found not guilty in after trying to hurdle a police 2010 of aggravated assault, and squad car. He's then surthe case was sent to the 5th U.S. Circuit rounded by at least five officers, some of Court of Appeals. whom appear to kick and hit his head, abIf there is a common thread to the police domen and legs.
PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW: Robert Muhammad (community activist and southwest representative of the Honorable Louis Farrakan and the Nation of Islam, Benjamin Crump (national civil rights attorney), and James M. Douglas (attorney and law professor).
On page 82 of this edition of Houston Business Connections Magazine is a "Special Report" by Robert Stanton on the police shooting in Fergus...