The Grand Jury's decision in the Houston Police involved shooting death of Jordan Baker marks the ongoing "rubber stamp" conclusion when Houston Police Officers shoot unarmed civilians. In fact, according to the Houston Chronicle, Harris County grand juries have cleared HPD officers of criminal wrongdoing in all shootings since 2008. More than a quarter of the 121 civilians shot by the department's officials from 2008 were - like Jordan Baker - unarmed.
That's a very sobering finding and one that suggest the need for reform is warranted. Facts such as these point to a systemic problem in our justice system. One that overwhelmingly protects all Police, even those that should not be Police officers. Last week, I met with Chief Charles McClelland to discuss the National Urban Leagues 10-Point Plan and current policies and procedures utilized by his department. In the end the Chief agreed with much of the 10 Point plan and is contemplating certain improvements in Officer training, Officer orientation, and even procedures when it comes to situations like civilian pursuit which is the "cloudy" part of the Baker shooting. Was it necessary to chase someone into a dark ally and shoot them? I suggest there is room for a discussion around procedural change. As it turns out Mr. Baker met the description of the suspect ( a black male wearing a hooded sweatshirt). His weapon, a bicycle.
I think we can do better than shooting people because we have a grand jury sytem that allows Police to do so. I think we can do better than tolerating angry, unstable people who murder two NYPD Officer's in the ridulous excuse of "justice" for Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
We are a modern society with old problems that can be worked out if we agree to work together. The Houston Area Urban League will continue to work with local and national leaders to find justice for those who have fallen and continue to move towards the uplift of our community. Until then, continue to demonstrate in a peaceful yet constructive fashion. Let's keep pushing for change that creates dialogue and opportunity for progress.
Judson Robinson III
President and CEO