The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 71/No. 5           February 5, 2007  
Protesters seek justice
in killings by Houston cops
(front page)
HOUSTON, January 20—“It’s you, Chief Hurtt! It’s not just the officer who killed my son, it’s you!” Danita McIntosh cried out as she confronted Houston police chief Harold Hurtt at a meeting in the Greater Lighthouse Church here January 17. The Sunnyside neighborhood church is less than a block from where her son, Robert McIntosh, 23, was shot dead at a traffic stop January 8 by police officer Leonard Smith.

“You don’t show us any respect and you have the nerve to come here and expect it from us,” she said.

The meeting, which drew more than 100 people, was the latest in a series of vigils, demonstrations, and press conferences over the last week protesting the recent killing by cops of two unarmed young men, one Black and one Latino.

Yolanda Perry, an eyewitness to McIntosh’s death, spoke to the press January 9 and was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury the following day. Perry said she saw Smith stun McIntosh in the back with a Taser gun after stopping the car he was riding in and arresting the driver. According to Perry, Smith then handcuffed McIntosh and shot him three times. Police officials contend that they cuffed McIntosh after he was shot.

At the January 17 meeting, Perry’s husband, Rev. George Perry, said that his wife has been getting threatening phone calls since she spoke up. A young man told the audience he witnessed the shooting and was harassed into silence after trying to come forward.

On January 7, two cops killed Omar Esparza, 21, at his family’s home in Houston’s east end.

The next day, Esparza’s father, José Valle, told a press conference that he had called the cops seeking help to get his son, who was mentally ill, to the hospital. The police officers entered the house armed with Taser stun guns, pellet rifles, and hand guns drawn.

Minutes later Valle and his wife heard five gunshots coming from inside. The cops kept the family outside and gave them no information about their son’s condition for four or five hours. No ambulance arrived until three hours after the shooting.

“If I had known what the police would do, I would have never called them,” Valle said. The outrage at these police killings comes in the midst of growing opposition to cop brutality here, including the widespread use of Taser guns. Two years ago local cops and capitalist politicians introduced the Tasers, promoting them as a way to reduce the number of deadly cop shootings after public outcry against police violence. A Houston Chronicle study published January 14, however, reported that Houston cops have shot, wounded, and killed as many people since the introduction of the stun guns as before.

Police data shows that in almost 1,000 Taser shootings since December 2004, some 63 percent of those shocked were Black. A quarter of Houston’s population of 1.95 million is African American.  
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