Seeking Answers in Deputy’s Slaying

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Activists Reject Claims That Black Lives Matter Led to Shooting of Houston Deputy.

Texas law enforcement officials have arrested a suspect in the murder of a sheriff’s deputy at a gas station in suburban Houston on Saturday, but they do not believe the gunman had any interaction with the victim before the shooting, and are still searching for a motive in the case.HOUSTON (AP) — The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of a uniformed suburban Houston sheriff’s deputy had a lengthy criminal record going back a decade, but never spent more than short stints in jail. Goforth was off duty but still in uniform when he was killed while pumping gas on Friday night at a Chevron station in Cypress, a suburb northwest of Houston. Miles, whose criminal record includes convictions for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm, was to be arraigned Monday in the shooting of Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

But what remained unclear Sunday was a motive for the shooting at a suburban Houston Chevron, which authorities say occurred when Goforth, 47, stopped to fill up his patrol car. “We have not been able to extract any details regarding a motive at this point. As far as we know, Deputy Goforth had no previous contact with the suspect, and it appears to be clearly unprovoked,” Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said.

While the motive behind the shooting remains unclear, officials were quick to link the incident to Black Lives Matter, the series of demonstrations against police misconduct. Investigators have said that they think Goforth was targeted for his uniform, however, and Hickman said authorities would look into whether heightened tensions surrounding law enforcement were a factor. “I think that’s something that we have to keep an eye on,” Hickman said. “The general climate of that kind of rhetoric can be influential on people to do things like this. Well, cops’ lives matter, too,” Hickman said. “So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and just say ‘lives matter,’ and take that to the bank.” Protests about law enforcement, police tactics and the treatment of African Americans have sprung up recently, including after the deaths of Michael Brown (who was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last year), Eric Garner (who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer last year), and Freddie Gray (who died of a severe spinal injury after an arrest in April). “My husband was an incredible intricate blend of toughness and gentility,” the statement said. “He was loyal…fiercely so.

Miles reportedly lives less than a mile away from the crime scene, and police spotted a red, extended cab pickup truck — the same model as the shooter’s suspected getaway vehicle — parked in the driveway of his house. Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson, who appeared with Sheriff Hickman, also pushed back against widespread criticism of police. “There are a few bad apples in every profession,” she said. “That does not mean that there should be open warfare declared on law enforcement.” Despite ongoing efforts to improve relations between law enforcement and black communities across the nation, tensions remain high between police and the public. Coleman, who is leading an inquiry into the death of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman found dead in a Waller County jail cell in July, according to the Times. “I think black lives matter,” he continued. “I think deputy sheriffs’ lives matter. But I think the statement shows a lack of understanding of what is occurring in this country when it comes to the singling out of African-Americans.” “It is sad that some have chosen to politicize this tragedy by falsely attributing the officer’s death to a movement seeking to end violence,” civil rights activist DeRay McKesson tweeted. Still, the shooting – which shocked the suspect’s neighbors as well as Harris County, the most populous in Texas – could be an opportunity for the community to come together.

On Saturday night, hundreds attended a vigil for Goforth, who leaves behind a wife and two children and whom colleagues described as a passionate officer and a family man. “We need a lot of healing rather than anger,” Houston police Lt. As the group marched through the streets escorted by law enforcement vehicles, traffic in the opposite lanes came to a halt, video from news helicopters showed. A Houston-based nonprofit group called the 100 Club, which supports the families of firefighters and law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, is providing Goforth’s wife with $20,000, and additional support, up to $300,000, could be provided to his family depending on their needs after an assessment is completed, the organization said. Goforth’s wife, Kathleen, released a statement to Houston television station KPRC-TV that said her husband was “ethical; the right thing to do is what guided his internal compass.

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