It came in as a disturbance call from a group home. Resident Brian Claunch was out of control. The one armed, one legged wheelchair bound man with a history of mental problems had trapped an officer in a corner and was waving a object. The officer's partner Matthew Marin shot and killed Claunch. It's turned out the object was a pen.. That was last September. Now a Harris County Grand Jury has refused to indict the officer, a "no bill" it's called. Activists with the greater Houston Coalition for Justice call it something else, business as usual.
"400 shootings of civilians in a row, all no billed" Said Attorney Randall Kallinen.
"How do you have so many shootings of civilians and that many no bills? You would think that the Grand Jury was making judgements on Jesus Christ. No police officers made any mistakes in these shootings?" asked Shelby Stewart.
They claim when it comes to officer involved shootings the grand jury system in Harris County is dysfunctional, from the selection of the grand jurors, to the selective presentation of evidence, to the secrecy surrounding the evidence. these and other problems in combination are making it highly unlikely they will ever indict and officer for shooting a civilian.
The DA's office issued this response to the accusations that reads in part.. "If they no bill it they no bill it. There is nothing our office can do. It would be inappropriate to sway an grand jury one way or the other."
Kallinen goes one step further.. claiming that the police department ,the city, and the DA's office act in concert to protect the officer..
"The city has entered into a contract with the police union that you don't get a standard investigation. Instead you have the 48 hour rule. For the first 48 hours the police officer doesn't have to talk to anybody about this."
Executive Director of the Houston Police Officers Union says that's simply not true... Officers do have to talk and they don't get special treatment from the Grand Juries or the DA's office.
"The fact of the matter is if an HPD officer is involved in a shooting that is in any way questionable it's going to require action by the DA's office I have all the faith in the world that Mike Anderson and his staff over there are going to do the right thing."