2003 Officer-involved Shootings
In 2003 there were 37 officer-involved shootings, resulting in 16 civilians killed, including two 14 and 15-yr. old boys, and 21 wounded. At least 21 were unarmed, and 7 were mentally ill. One officer was convicted of homicide (11/21/03) and sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 yrs probation. Another was tried and found not guilty of murder (12/15/03). All other officers were no-billed.
37. 12/27/03 - Jonathan Ray Comick, killed when shot in the back of the leg and back of the head by Harris County sheriff's deputy James Drury, who was chasing him on foot after he robbed a restaurant. Comick is the 16th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer. (See comments re: autopsy report)
36. 12/15/03 - Kevin Leonard Lunsford, 25 and unarmed, shot and killed by Houston PD Lt. Eric D. Hillman, 41, a 21-yr. veteran. Hillman claims Lunsford had been making harassing phone calls to him, so he placed "no trespassing" sign on his property. When Lunsford drove onto the property, Hillman pulled his gun, told Lunsford he was under arrest, then shot him as he allegedly "moved toward the glove box." Lunsford then tried to drive away, and Hillman shot at his truck three more times, claiming he "feared (Lunsford) was reaching for what he thought was a weapon." He did not have a weapon. Hillman was ind icted and tried for murder. After 22 hours of deliberation, the jury found him not guilty. Lunsford is the 15th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer. (media reports)
Eric D. Hillman
35. 11/21/03 - Eli Eloy Escobar II.
Eli Escobar and his wife Lydia
14, h/m, (the only child of Lydia and Eli Escobar) shot in the head and killed by Houston police officer Arthur J. Carbonneau, a 4-yr. veteran, who claims he responded to a criminal mischief report and Escobar, standing in a group of boys, was pointed out to them by the caller. Carbonneau then claims a struggle ensued and his gun went off, killing the boy. But a friend of the boy said the two of them were playing video games inside the friend's apartment when officers came to the door and ordered them outside. When they didn't respond immediately, saying they didn't understand why they were being ordered out, Carbonneau grabbed Eli by his shirt and pulled him over to the fence. Eli fell to ground, he said, and told police he didn't do anything. Eli tried to get up and fell again. The friend said he then heard one gunshot. Carbonneau was indicted and convicted of criminally negligent homicide. His punishment: 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. He was also ordered to write a letter of apology to Eli's parents. Escobar is the 14th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer. In May, 2008, the City settled the civil case for $1.5 million, a letter from the city expressing condolences to Eli's parents, a commitment from the city to change gun handling and crisis intervention training for all HPD officers, and a memorial plaque in honor of Eli Escobar Jr.'s life to be placed on city property.
HPD officer Arthur Carbonneau. Convicted of criminally negligent homicide in 2005 for the 2003 shooting death of 14-year-old Eli Escobar II.; sentenced to 60 days in jail, 10 years’ probation. (media reports)
Arthur J. Carbonneau
34. 11/18/03 - Charlie Everett Brown, 47, mentally ill, shot in the chest with a shotgun and killed by Sgt. William L. Gray, an 18-yr veteran with the Harris County sheriff's office. Police claim Brown was threatening to kill himself and his wife, and was shot when he removed the gun from his pocket. Although police said, "Our biggest fear was that he would shoot his wife and kids," no such threat was made against his children, who were asleep. Brown was a welding instructor at San Jacinto College. Just a week earlier deputies had gone to Brown's home in response to a relative's call that he was a suicide risk, but they failed to place him in a psychiatric facility at that time. Brown is the 13th person known to have been killed this year by a Harris County police officer.
33. 11/13/03 - John Maler, wounded when shot by Harris County Asst. DA Don Boethel, who was serving a felony warrant. Maler tried to grab Boethel's gun, and it went off, striking Boethel's wrist and wounding Maler.
32. 11/11/03 - Louis Medlow, 45, threatening suicide, wounded when shot in the legs and buttocks by Houston PD officer Curtis Hampton during SWAT standoff. Although the standoff lasted several hours, no CIT officer was reported to have been called.
See also: 12/25/11 - Hampton kills Blake Pate.
31. 10/31/03 - Jose Daniel Vargas Jr.
15, h/m, cruising a theater parking lot with 3 other boys, shot once in the chest and killed by Houston police officer Richard K. Butler, b/m. Butler claimed the cruising was suspicious behavior, ordered Vargas to stop his car and thrust his hands and gun inside the driver's window. He first claimed he shot Vargas because he felt threatened; police later claimed that instead of stopping his car, Vargas tried to drive off and the movement caused Butler's gun to go off. Butler was fired, but he appealed to a Civil Service Commission, which restored his job. Vargas is the 12th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer.
Officer Richard Kevin Butler no-billed by jury, later returned to the police force.
30. 10/13/03 - Clell Tyree (Jamian) Allen, b/m, 21, wounded when shot by Houston PD officer J.L. Rivera, 31 (6-yr. vet, NW Patrol). Allen had robbed and kidnapped a woman, then tried to assault her, but she managed to escape him. Rivera found Allen driving the woman's car and stopped him. As he approached, Rivera claims he feared for his life when Allen reached under the car seat; Rivera shot at him three times, striking Allen near the left knee. No weapon was reported to have been found.
29. 10/8/03 - Jose Zamora, h/m, in "extremely grave condition" after being shot in the head by Houston PD officer Carl Sanders, who claims Zamora "suddenly drove toward" him after Sanders discovered him stealing a car.
See also: 4/9/08 - Sanders shoots L. Mendez in the ankle.
28. 9/30/03 - Misti Eldridge, 21, wounded when hit in the hand by shotgun pellets fired by Houston PD officers S.P. Veliz and Ralph G. Chaison during a drug raid.
27. 9/22/03 - Wilbert Lillie, b/m, 21, wounded when shot once in the arm and grazed across the chest by a second shot by Houston PD officer Dirk Bogaard, 37 (12-yr. veteran-narcotics div.) during a drug sting. Bogaard claims that after Lillie pointed a gun at his head demanding his car and money, he (Lillie) got out of the car and walked around to the driver's side; Bogaard then shot him.
26. 9/8/03 - Gralynn Keith Guillory, b/m, 20, shot multiple times and killed by Houston PD patrol officers J. D. Terry, a 2-year veteran, and C. L. Nichols, on the force just 3 months, both of the Westside division. At approximately 11 pm a deputy constable responded to a report of a "suspicious man with a knife." The deputy said Guillory began following him around his squad car, at one point grabbing the nozzle of a gas pump. His "irrational behavior" continued until twenty minutes later, when Terry and Nichols arrived. They claim Guillory approached Nichols in a threatening manner and they shot him.
Although Guillory exhibited signs of mental illness during this entire incident, again, HPD’s CIT either was not called, or failed to respond; he is the 11th person known to have been shot to death this year by Harris County police officers.
25. 9/2/03 - Mary J. Beasley (female), reportedly suicidal, killed when shot twice by Houston police SWAT officer Patrick J. Straker and once by Houston patrol officer R.V. Pinkerton. The woman was a health care provider who lived with her patient. They had argued over sleeping arrangements, and the patient called police saying she had barricaded herself in his bedroom with his gun and was threatening suicide. After a lengthy confrontation, police claim she waved the gun at them in a threatening way, and the two officers shot and killed her. (media reports)
See also: (Straker media reports)
07/31/07 - Straker kills Reginald Lee Sumbler;
10/23/06 - Straker kills Mohammad Rafi.
08/13/01 - Straker kills McLoren Anthony Jones; and
06/10/99 - Straker kills Demetrio Martine Hernandez.
Although approximately 25% of HPD’s 5700 police officers have now been trained by its CIT (Critical Incident Team) program to respond to calls involving the mentally ill, apparently not one was either dispatched or willing to respond to this threatened suicide. Beasley was the 10th person known to have been shot to death this year by Harris County police officers.
24. 9/2/03 - George Corona, 27, shot by Houston PD narcotics officer Alexander Moreira during drug raid. Moreira, holding a shotgun, told Corona to drop to the floor, and he laid down on a mattress on the floor. Claiming Corona's hand was moving under a pillow and he would not hold still, Moreira shot him in the right forearm. No weapons were found during the search.
See also: (Moreira media reports)
07/21/03 - Moreira shoots Sarah Fay Mize;
03/07/96 - Moreira shoots and kills Clinton Sparks; and
02/21/96 - Moreira was accused of beating Jabar Watson during a traffic stop.
23. 8/28/03 - Shelvin Rowmane Williams, b/m, 22, shot in the chest and killed by Houston police officer D.P. Kankel, 56, a 33-yr HPD veteran assigned to North Shepherd Patrol Division. Williams had tried and failed to kidnap a young girl and steal a car. Police claim Kankel "feared for his safety" after being punched in the face by Williams as he tried to arrest him, so he shot him once, killing him. Williams is the 9th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer.
22. 8/21/03 - Francisco Herrera, wounded when shot by DEA officer Mark Webber. Agents were attempting to make arrests during a drug sting when "suspects" ran. Webber claims he fired as a drug dealer tried to run over him.
21. 8/17/03 - Karl Buckley Koch, 24 and unarmed, shot and killed by Harris County sheriff’s deputy Marcus Christopher Staudt. Police claim Koch was parked with his lights off in an area known as a dumpsite for stolen vehicles, and when they approached him, he fled. During the chase, Staudt shot six times into Koch’s vehicle, killing him. Koch is the 8th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer.
20. 8/14/03 - Brian Wade Mooney, w/m, unarmed, wounded when shot in the elbow by Houston PD officer A. Garcia, who claimed Mooney tried to run him over in a stolen car.
19. 7/21/03 - Sarah Fay Mize, w/f, 21 and unarmed, injured by glass fragments in her right arm when the car in which she was a passenger was fired on by Houston PD narcotics officer Alexander Moreira (9-yr. veteran).
See also: (Moreira media reports)
09/02/03 - Moreira shoots George Corona;
03/07/96 - Moreira shoots and kills Clinton Sparks; and
02/21/96 - Moreira was accused of beating Jabar Watson during a traffic stop.
18. 7/20/03 - Alejandro M. Santiago, h./m, 29, critically wounded when shot in the chest by Houston PD officer Richard G. Pederson, 45. Police were called when Santiago refused to let a man retrieve his belongings from Santiago's apartment. Pederson claimed Santiago pointed a gun at him through window blinds; he fired 8 times through the window.
17. 6/29/03 - Eric Dwayne Harris, 17 and unarmed, wounded when shot in the leg by Houston PD officer Deborah A. Cannon, 42, a 17-yr. veteran. Harris was allegedly trying to burglarize a car, and a struggle ensued when he was caught by Cannon. Claiming she believed Harris was about to grab her weapon, she drew it and shot him in the knee. No weapon was reported to have been found.
16. 5/18/03 - Michael Blevins, 36 and unarmed, shot by Harris County sheriff’s deputy Keith Lee Thornton. When Blevins stopped his pickup at a boat ramp, Thornton found an outstanding arrest warrant for him; Blevins fled, Thornton gave chase. "Fearing that the pickup would roll over his patrol car, (Thornton) leaned out the window and fired one shot," hitting Blevins in the abdomen.
15. 5/4/03 - Johnny Joseph Roth III., 23, shot and killed by Precinct 4 Harris County deputy constables Terry Wayne Ashabranner and James Randall Brown when they tried to serve Roth’s companion with an arrest warrant for probation violation. Police claim they shot into the apartment after they were fired upon. Investigators said one of the deputies was grazed by a bullet, possibly fired by the other deputy. Ashabranner and Brown were no-billed. Roth is the 7th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer. (media reports)
See also: (Ashabranner media reports)
02/28/03 – Brown wounds Aaron Agee;
06/09/02 – Ashabranner kills Waseem Jung; and
04/14/02 – Ashabranner kills Michael Wayne Goodman.
Terry Wayne Ashabranner
14. 3/31/03 - Juan Lozano Jr.
h/m, 31, mentally ill, shot twice in the chest and killed by Ronald L. Plotner, a 5-yr. veteran of HPD, who claims he chased Lozano because he was driving through a residential area with his lights off. Lozano soon crashed and his car turned on its side in a ditch. Plotner then claims Lozano "grabbed an object from his vehicle and pointed it" at him; a witness disputes that, saying Lozano was "on the ground" when he was shot. No weapon was found. He was only a short distance from his sister’s house, where he had been staying since splitting up with his wife. Plotner was no-billed. Lozano is the 6th person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer.
13. 2/28/03 - Aaron Agee, suffering from depression, shot and injured by Harris County Precinct 4 deputy constable James Randall Brown. Agee was reportedly attacking his wife and son; he began walking toward Brown with a knife in his hand when Brown shot him. Brown was no-billed. This is the 13th officer-involved shooting this year by Harris County police officers.
See also: 5/4/03 - Brown kills Johnny Roth.
12. 2/23/03 - Jake McClain Driver, w/m, 19 and mentally ill, shot in the stomach by Houston police officer B. C. Oxspring, a 4-year veteran with Southwest Patrol. Oxspring and his partner were responding to an "overdose/suicide in progress" call. They said Driver "charged at Oxspring while raising the screwdriver in a stabbing motion." No explanation was given for the failure of HPD’s CIT team to respond to this call. This is the 12th officer-involved shooting this year by Harris County police officers.
11. 2/8/03 - Fidencio Diaz Ramirez (h/m), shot once in the shoulder and killed by J.E. Noble, a 4-year veteran of HPD. Police say Ramirez was threatening to kill his wife with a knife when he was killed. Noble was no-billed. Ramirez is the 5th person known to have been shot to death this year, and this is the 11th officer-involved shooting this year by Harris County police officers. (media reports)
10. 2/6/03 - Willie B. Greene Jr. , b/m, 39, shot to death by Harris County sheriff's deputies Michael Ray Franklin and Shane David McCoy, who claim he tried to run down McCoy in a stolen car. Officers said the man was asleep in the car, and they "tapped on the window." They claim the man started the car, rammed the patrol car as he backed up, then drove "straight toward" McCoy. Both of the deputies shot several times into the car, killing Greene. (See photos showing bullet holes entering from the side, not the front, of the car.) Franklin and McCoy were no-billed. Greene is the 4th person known to have been shot to death this year, and this is the 10th officer-involved shooting this year by Harris County police officers.
9. 2/4/03 - Courteland Prentice Congo, b/m, 21 and unarmed, shot by Houston police officer G.A. Flowers of the Auto Theft Division and an 18-year veteran with HPD. Police said Congo was driving a stolen car and when he "reached for something in the car" Flowers shot him, inflicting a minor laceration under his chin. This is the ninth officer-involved shooting this year by Harris County police officers. No weapon was reported to have been found.
8. 2/2/03 - Eric Estuardo Morales, 26 shot at least three times, twice in the arm and once in the abdomen, and killed by Pedro Sandoval, 32, a 7-year veteran of Houston PD. Police reported Morales hid in the bedroom of his ex-girlfriend (the estranged wife of officer Sandoval, who was in the home at the time). Morales was shot to death when he lunged at Sandoval with a butcher knife. Sandoval was no-billed. Morales is the 3rd person known to have been shot to death this year, and the 8th officer-involved shooting this year by a Harris County police officer.
7. 1/15/03 - Juan Rivera Cisneros, unarmed, shot by off-duty Harris County sheriff’s deputy Anthony Joseph Gerac, who fired at least 11 shots at his car. Gerac claimed Cisneros tried to run him down. This is the 7th officer-involved shooting this year by a Harris County police officer.
6. 1/10/03 - German Armando Hernandez, h/m, 23 and unarmed, shot in the arm and critically wounded when shot at by Houston police officers Sgt. L.E. Thomas, T. C. Mathis, (female), I. Gonzalez and K. Hunt, all from Fondren Patrol. Police say he hit a police escort, then ran a red light and hit another car before crashing into a telephone pole. He is the 6th person known to have been shot this year by Harris County police officers.
5. 1/9/03 - Vernis Dwayne Scott, 29, shot in the arm, leg and stomach by Houston police officers Oscar Maldonado, 39, an 8-yr. veteran, and Kevin D. Eichman, 28, a one-mo. rookie, both of Central Patrol. Scott was sitting on a porch firing a gun into the air. Police claim he refused to drop his gun and pointed it at Eichman; both officers then shot at him. More than 20 shell casings were found at the scene. Scott is the 5th person known to have been shot this year by Harris County police officers.
See also: 7/14/09 - Eichman kills Tony Wayne Johnson.
4. 1/7/03 - Alexander Drebing Negrotto
w/m, 35, shot in the chest and critically wounded by Harris County sheriff’s deputy Steven Kelly Shaddox, 37, an 11-yr. veteran, who had responded to a disturbance report. Negrotto had allegedly beat a friend and shot at another man. Claiming Negrotto refused to drop a weapon as he approached the deputy, Shaddox fired several times, striking him at least once in the chest. Negrotto is the 4th person known to have been shot this year by Harris County police officers.
3. 1/5/03 - Truyen The Pham
a/m, 23, shot four times (including several shots in the back) and killed by Precinct 6 constable Cpl. Freddie Castillo, a 10-yr. veteran. Police claim Pham fired a gun into a group outside a club, refused to drop the gun and pointed it at deputy constable Danny Avalos; that’s when Castillo shot him. However, at least three civilian witnesses, one of whom was wounded in the foot by one of the gunman’s shots, said that Pham and another man tried to protect them and tackled the gunman and when Pham stood up "the cop fired at him…without any kind of warning…I saw Truyen laying there, gasping for air…And they just left him there." Two of the witnesses said the gunman was taken into custody but was later let go by police. Another witness said Pham was trying to get to his feet when he was shot in the back. Test results to determine if there was gunpowder on Pham’s hands were inconclusive. Castillo was no-billed by a grand jury. Pham is the 2nd person known to have been shot to death this year by Harris County police officers.
2. 1/5/03 - Anthony Loyde Bell, b/m, 24, critically wounded by one gunshot to the chest after a chase involving sheriff’s deputy Dennis Ray Castanie, Houston police officer S.D. O’Leary (Southeast Patrol) and Metro police officer Carlos Gene Benavides III. Police said Castanie stopped Bell for speeding but jumped back in his car, shot once at Castanie and fled. Other officers joined the chase, which ended in a collision with Benavides’ car. Bell was injured when shots were exchanged by him and officers. No officer was hurt. He is the 3rd person known to have been shot this year by Harris County police officers.
1. 1/3/03 - Carlos Cabrera, 32, h/m, shot in the chest and killed by detective Zell Ray Woods, b/m, 42, a 9-year veteran with Bellaire PD. Bellaire police officer Frederico Ramirez, h/m, a 15-month veteran, said he attempted to stop Cabrera’s pickup for a routine traffic violation but claims Cabrera sped away and a brief chase ensued. After the truck stopped, Ramirez and Cabrera apparently exchanged gunfire, and Ramirez was shot in the leg. Woods arrived at that time and shot Cabrera. Police tout Woods’ actions as "possibly sav(ing) Ramirez’ life," and claim Cabrera and one of his passengers "are believed to have robbed several people." Woods was no-billed. Cabrera is the first person known to have been shot to death this year by a Harris County police officer.
On 10/15/86, Woods, then a 4-yr. veteran police officer with Brookshire PD and a former military police officer, shot Anthony Carl Spiller, 15. Spiller was a passenger in a pickup truck allegedly stolen by a 17-year-old friend. Woods shot at the truck as he chased it at speeds up to 100 mph. (It is unlawful for a peace officer to shoot at a fleeing suspect.) The truck crashed and the boys ran on foot. Woods chased and shot at them, hitting Spiller in the jaw. Investigators said they do not know why Woods fired at the unarmed teen.
The only other known deadly incident involving a Bellaire police officer occurred on 7/15/95, when 17-year-old Travis Allen was shot twice in the back and killed by officer Michael Leal.
Zell Woods, Bellaire PD