HOUSTON — Last week, an as-yet unnamed deputy of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office shot and killed Danny Ray Thomas, a 34-year-old unarmed Black man, in North Houston. Footage of the killing taken by a bystander has been made available to the public, but the Sheriff’s Office has not yet released the officer’s name or his dash- or body-camera footage.
“It’s difficult to imagine how this shooting could possibly be justified. We must demand that our law enforcement agencies, who are sworn to protect our communities, be held accountable whenever deadly force is used unlawfully,” said Sharon Watkins-Jones, director of political strategies of the ACLU of Texas. “But whatever the excuse, another unarmed black man has been killed by law enforcement, in the street and in broad daylight, and the only reason we know about it is because of bystander footage.
“In the immediate term, we call upon the Harris County Sheriff to release the officer’s name and any audio and video recordings to the public. The Houston Police Department must conduct a full and transparent criminal investigation into this matter. In the longer term, HCSO must revisit its use of force policies to prioritize the sanctity of human life, to require patience of its officers, and to demand that lethal force only be used as a last resort. Danny Ray Thomas should not have been killed, and with proper training in place, he wouldn’t have been.”