Quick Quote from the ACLU of Texas

Dec 5, 2012 Print This Post

ACLU Of Texas Reacts To Justice Department Investigation Of Houston Police

CONTACT: Dotty Griffith, 713 942 8146 x 103, 214 356 5896; media@aclutx.org

HOUSTON – The Houston Chronicle reported today about a Justice Department investigation into allegations of excessive use of force by the Houston Police Department.

The following may be attributed to ACLU of Texas Public Education Director Dotty Griffith: “The ACLU of Texas gets more complaints about abuse of power and excessive use of force by police than any other civil rights issue, so these charges of misconduct by the Houston police department are no surprise to us.  We feel the Justice Department is right to investigate why these incidents occur here with disturbing frequency. At the same time, we commend Chief McClelland for his proactive efforts to provide better training to Houston police.”

The following may be attributed to ACLU of Texas Legal & Policy Director Rebecca Robertson:  “A safe community requires police accountability and an atmosphere of trust between law enforcement and the public. That trust is destroyed when police routinely escalate to force in non-threatening situations like a bystander’s filming enforcement activity.  That’s a constitutionally protected activity precisely because it increases accountability.  Good cops don’t fear accountability; they welcome it.”

Read previous ACLU of Texas statement on an HPD shooting and the right of witnesses to photograph police action.

The following excerpt from today’s report in The Houston Chronicle details the cases involved:

“HPD Chief Charles McClelland says the Justice Department is investigating six cases involving shootings or alleged excessive force against unarmed residents by Houston police officers:

1. Chad Holley: The teenager was beaten by nearly a dozen officers during a March 2009 burglary arrest. Seven officers, including four who were indicted by a Harris County grand jury, were later fired. Holley demonstrated at a May hearing where his hands were during the beating, which was caught on surveillance video.

2. Annika Lewis: She was recording officers kicking and hitting her husband with a baton outside their home when she was tackled, punched and had the memory card taken from her phone.

3. Rufino Lara: He was shot to death by an officer who ordered him to raise both hands. HPD says he turned with a hand on a beer in his waistband, but witnesses say his hands were up.

4. Brian Claunch: The double amputee was in his wheelchair and irately waving a pen when he was fatally shot by a police officer called to a private home-care facility.

5. Anthony Childress: He says he was stopped during a midnight bicycle ride and beaten by a group of officers, losing six teeth and requiring 56 stitches.

6. A 16-year-old armed robbery suspect was in handcuffs when he was punched in the face by officer Angela Horton. The July 2011 incident was caught by a television crew. McClelland fired Horton the following month.

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