asks feds to probe shooting
JusticeDepartment monitoring police case
Houston Chronicle, FRI 07/24/98, Section: A, Page: 39, By STEFANIE ASIN, Staff
The national president of LULAC has urged Justice Department officials to investigate the fatal shooting of a young Hispanic man by Houston police officers.
Though the Justice Department is not investigating the shooting of Pedro Oregon Navarro , 22, it is monitoring the case while local authorities gather evidence, said department spokeswoman Karen Guerriero. She said the department will communicate with Houston police as the case progresses.
On Wednesday, Rick Dovalina, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, met with the acting assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights. He said he was assured the FBI would investigate.
"I didn't want this to fall through the cracks," said Dovalina, who lives in Houston. "The bottom line is they shot an innocent young man in the back after an illegal entry."
On July 12, officers raided Oregon 's apartment in the 6700 block of Atwell after an informant told them drugs were being sold there. They had no search warrant.
Once inside the apartment, the police kicked down his bedroom door and gunfire began. Oregon was shot 12 times, nine times in the back.
Sources have told the Chronicle that the gunfire began when an officer shouted that Oregon had a gun. One officer was shot by another officer.
Tests showed that Oregon 's gun was never fired.
Dovalina told reporters Thursday that the case is of national significance to Hispanics.
"It's a Hispanic in a poor neighborhood so there's an assumption drugs are involved. These assumptions concern us," Dovalina said. "Would this have happened in Tanglewood? I doubt it."
Tanglewood is a predominantly white upper-middle-class neighborhood.
Dovalina said that when he met with Justice officials in Washington, D.C., he gave them a copy of the autopsy report and newspaper clippings.
The local office of LULAC also plans to put pressure on local and national investigators. LULAC wants them to know that someone is watching.
"There were Hispanics before who were who were afraid of police. This won't help matters," said Johnny Mata, president of the local LULAC organization.
HPD spokesman Robert Hurst said: "The Houston Police Department is continuing its investigation into the Oregon case in cooperation with the Harris County District Attorney's Office. We welcome the FBI's monitoring of the investigation and we will be responsive to any requests which the bureau may have."
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