probe of shooting demanded
Hispanic lawyers plan to watch case closely
Houston Chronicle, THU 08/20/98, Section: A, Page: 29, By STEVE BREWER
A group of Hispanic lawyers urged Harris County prosecutors Wednesday to be aggressive when they present grand jurors with the case of a man killed by police officers who entered his home without a warrant.
Several members of the Mexican-American Bar Association of Houston made the demand during a news conference outside the Harris County Family Law Center. They said they would be watching closely to see how prosecutors handle the case of Pedro Oregon Navarro .
"All we ask is that when (prosecutors) go to the grand jury that they seek indictments that are appropriate to this type of case," said Frumencio Reyes Jr., chairman of MABAH's Civil Rights Committee. "We want to make sure every piece of evidence, every item is presented to the grand jury fairly and squarely so the family of this young man can get justice."
Oregon , 22, was killed July 12 when six police officers, following a lead from an informant, charged into Oregon 's southwest Houston apartment about 1:30 a.m. looking for drugs.
A shot fired by one officer hit a fellow officer in his bullet-resistant vest and knocked him down, police said. The officers, who are now on paid suspensions, apparently thought Oregon fired that shot and opened fire on him.
Police fired more than 30 shots. An autopsy found that 12 bullets hit Oregon from behind, nine of them hitting him in the back.
But Oregon never fired the handgun found in his apartment and no narcotics were found. Toxicology reports also showed Oregon had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the shooting.
With Wednesday's statements, members of MABAH became the latest in a chorus of voices calling for an extensive investigation into the shooting.
Reyes, who praised Harris County District Attorney John B. Holmes Jr. for his handling of such cases in the past, said prosecutors should also investigate whether the weapon found in Oregon 's apartment was a "throw-down gun" planted by police.
Holmes said Wednesday that's already been done, but declined to discuss the results.
A source familiar with the case, who requested anonymity, said the results of that inquiry did not reveal any signs that the gun was a "throw-down."
As for presenting all evidence to grand jurors, Holmes said that's always been the plan.
"Every witness we can find or produce, including down to the medical examiner, is going to testify live and in person for the grand jury," he said. "I have no agenda in this. I'm going to do my best to put this in front of grand jurors and make sure justice is done."
That includes making witnesses available to grand jurors who were suggested to prosecutors by attorneys representing Oregon 's family, a practice Holmes said his office follows in every case.
Grand jurors are expected to start reviewing the case Monday.
About LULAC | Members | Programs | Issues | Events | Publications | Links | Site Map | Home | Email