A Houston police officer, who fatally shot a double amputee in a wheelchair, will not be indicted after a grand jury decided not to bring criminal charges against him. HPD officer, Matthew Marin, shot and killed Brian Claunch for threatening his partner with a ballpoint pen. Claunch was mentally ill.
The assistant Harris County district attorney who is chief of the Civil Rights Division, Julian Ramirez, announced the grand jury’s decision. An internal affairs investigation into the shooting is still ongoing, according to police spokesperson, John Cannon. Marin has been assigned to administrative duties at HPD's property room facility since the shooting took place, Cannon said.
A Houston attorney and civil rights activist, Randall Kallinen, said Marin should have faced a much stiffer punishment for the shooting.
"Shooting an unarmed individual, a double amputee in a wheelchair, should be considered excessive force," he said. "The city of Houston lacks a system to effectively track use of force, resulting in no discipline for officers involved in excessive force incidents, thereby encouraging further instances of excessive force."
Amin Alehashem, staff attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project in Houston, was not surprised by the grand jury’s ruling.
"The recent trend has always been, as far as I know, that police who shoot unarmed individuals claim some sort of credible threat and after some sort of investigation an overwhelming majority — more than 99 percent — have been exonerated," Alehashem said.
Claunch, 45, was at a group care facility when he became agitated because he was not given a cigarette and a drink. When Marin and his partner arrived, he said Claunch backed his partner into a bedroom corner with his wheelchair and tried to stab him with something shiny.
Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, said Marin acted appropriately, The Houston Chronicle reported.
"Officer Marin is relieved this is finally behind him," Hunt said. "He's very pleased his actions were shown to be justified as he knew they would be. Anytime an unarmed person is shot by the police, it is extremely unfortunate, but again officers are making split-second decisions on what they're seeing taking place."