Suspect in Killing of Houston-Area Police Officer Appears in Court

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Black Lives Matter rhetoric under scrutiny in Texas ‘assassination’.

HOUSTON — A man charged with killing a suburban Houston officer first shot the 10-year veteran in the back of the head and fired a total of 15 times, authorities said Monday. 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. The suspect, Shannon Miles, is in custody but “we have not been able to extract any details regarding a motive at this point,” said Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman. The anti-police rhetoric surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, he added, has ramped up “to the point where calculated, cold-blooded assassination of police officers happens.” In the aftermath of such tragedy, it is perhaps an understandable sentiment.

Miles’ criminal record begins in 2005, when he was convicted of criminal mischief, giving false information to police and resisting arrest, according to records. Goforth, 47, was shot 15 times, Anderson said, adding that the suspect “unloaded the entire pistol into Deputy Goforth.” She also said a witness saw the shooting and that the shell casings match the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun found at Miles’ home. Beneath such comments is the implication that the fallout from the last year’s protests, which arose in Ferguson, Mo., has made police beats more deadly. The killing evoked strong emotions in the local law enforcement community, with Hickman linking it to heightened tension over the treatment of African-Americans by police.

And while the numbers for police killed in ambushes this year are not available, the overall number of police killed by guns is down and near historic lows. The nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement that formed after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has sought sweeping reforms of policing. Related protests erupted in Texas recently after a 28-year-old Chicago-area black woman, Sandra Bland, was found dead in a county jail about 50 miles northwest of Houston three days after her arrest on a traffic violation. Public confidence in police has fallen to a 22-year low, according to Gallup, and that has left departments from Baltimore to Virginia Beach, Va., feeling “under siege.” “When you see officers in Baltimore going through what they’re going through – and in Ferguson and New York – that affects morale here,” Brian Luciano, president of the Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association, told The Virginian-Pilot. “You just see your brothers and sisters, and that could be you.” Some officers have said that they see more belligerence in those they stop on the street.

But there is not yet strong evidence to support what Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said he worried was an “open warfare declared on law enforcement.” Last year saw a spike in overall police deaths by gunfire (51). 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. Onlookers stood along the road, some waving American flags and others snapping photos. “There’s people out there spreading hate about police officers when these police officers are here to protect and serve us,” Andre Reynolds, Goforth’s friend, told CBS News. 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.” (TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries.

And they rejected the claim that their movement led to the officer’s murder. “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,” DeRay Mckesson, a leader in the movement, tweeted. “I do not condone killing,” he added. “Police are under siege in every quarter,” said Gene Ryan, president of Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, in a statement. “They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty.” On Saturday, hundreds of Houston residents showed up at the Chevron station where Mr. Carol Hayes, an African-American woman who attended the vigil, told NBC News that her family had always felt welcome in the area. “I wanted to demonstrate that all lives matter, regardless of color,” she said.

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