Juries usually have a hard time second guessing the word of a police officer who says he believed his life was in danger. For example, last year a Harris County jury declined to convict a Bellaire police officer accused of shooting an unarmed man in his own front yard. The officer claimed he believed the car the victim had been driving was stolen, and he believed the victim and his friend were armed. The problem was he gave several conflicting versions of the story. The victim and his family alleged the officer’s actions were motivated by racial prejudice, and not concern for safety. In the end, the Jury sided with the officer.
That is why it was surprising today when a Federal jury in New Orleans convicted 5 police officers of fatally shooting, without justification, several people during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Government’s evidence was substantial. One of the victims was a handicapped man who was shot in the back as he was fleeing from the officers. The Government was able to prove that the officers had help from another officer who covered up the shooting. The cover up officer created fictitious witnesses who allegedly saw the officers acting in self-defense. He also planted a gun he kept in his house on the body of one of the victims.
In Texas, the law allows a person to use force (even deadly force) to defend himself when he reasonably believes that the use of such force is immediately necessary to protect himself from another person’s use of unlawful force. The force a person uses must be proportional to the amount of force used by the person’s attacker. For instance, if someone slapped you in the face, you could not then shoot them with a gun. If you or a loved one have been accused of a violent crime, it is important to hire a lawyer who knows the law. Call the Law Offices of The Law Office of Matthew D. Sharp today for a free consultation.