A police officer has been cleared of charges after fatally shooting a man who was mentally disabled, a double amputee and at the time of the shooting was wielding only a ballpoint pen.
Houston Police Officer Matthew Marin did not violate police procedure in the shooting of Brian Claunch, a 45-year-old man who had paranoid schizophrenia and used a wheelchair, said Police Chief Charles McClelland on Oct. 24, according to local radio station News 92FM.
"Certainly [it was] an unfortunate and very tragic event," McClelland said. "But we must keep in mind that when these events or incidents do occur, officers are making decisions in a matter of seconds, sometimes in less desirable environments."
The incident occurred last year at the Healing Hands Assisted Home Care center, where Claunch was living. A caretaker at the home called police after Claunch became aggressive, and Claunch cornered one of the responding officers and waved a sharp object at him. The other officer, Marin, shot Claunch in the head in order to protect his partner, The Associated Press reported at the time of the shooting.
The sharp object Claunch was holding turned out to be a ballpoint pen. John Garcia, the owner of the assisted care facility, told reporters that Claunch liked to draw.
The Houston district attorney's office had also investigated the incident, DA spokesman Jeff McShan told HuffPost on the phone Tuesday, but the office considers the case closed after a grand jury declined to indict Marin in June.
Claunch, who reportedly lost an arm and leg after lying down on train tracks, had a history of erratic behavior and run-ins with the law, including several stints in jail, per the AP.
Still, some in Texas question the validity of the decision. "When police get to investigate themselves, the public loses," commented Texas resident Brian Engel on Facebook. Meanwhile, The Texas Observer published an article Monday reporting that Houston police killed more than 100 people between 2007 and 2012. The article also noted that no Houston police officer has been found guilty of a shooting in about a decade.
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