Houston Police Officer Indicted by Harris County Grand Jury

A Houston police officer has been indicted by a Harris County grand jury for kicking a suspected burglar who had already been shot and for tampering with evidence in the case. The incident took place in February, but the indictment by the grand jury was just handed down last week.

The officer had hurried to his own home upon learning that a burglary was reportedly in progress. The officer confronted the suspected burglar who was allegedly carrying some of the officers person property from the home. A struggle ensued and the officer shot the suspected burglar.

According to the Dallas Morning News:

“[v]ideo taken by witnesses of the incident indicated that Johnson then kicked Carr while he was down. ‛Officer Johnson delivered a number of blows with his foot by kicking Carr while he was on the ground incapacitated after he’d been shot,’ Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said at a news conference.”

Prosecutors also allege that the officer moved the suspected burglar’s tool, a pickle fork, to support the officer’s claim that the burglar had used it to threaten him.

https://www.dallasnews.com/news/texas/2017/06/24/former-houston-cop-indicted-kicking-wounded-burglary-suspect-tampering

This is the second case in the past two weeks of a Harris county law enforcement officer being indicted by a grand jury. A Harris County deputy and her husband were recently indicted on charged related to the death of a man allegedly placed in a chokehold by the deputy’s husband.

While indictments make headlines, it is important to remember that the grand jury’s only function is to determine whether probably cause exists to believe an offense has been committed. A grand jury’s indictment is far from a finding of guilt beyond-a-reasonable-doubt. If you are accused of a felony in Fort Worth, or anywhere in Tarrant County, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. A Fort Worth Grand Jury Attorney can help you understand the charges you are facing and help you defend yourself. If you have not yet been indicted, your attorney may be able to present evidence for consideration by the grand jury that can result in a “no bill.” If you need help with a grand jury or any criminal law matter in Tarrant, Dallas, Hood, Parker, Johnson, or any other Texas counties, Blake & Blake LLP can help. Our attorneys are experienced in defending criminal cases and have successfully represented clients accused of felonies. We have a track record of obtaining no bills from grand jury proceedings.

Possible Changes Coming To Texas DWI Surcharges

Should Texas kill driver responsibility program?

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article142887289.html

 

This Fort Worth Star-Telegram article discusses an important DWI-related to topic being addressed in the Texas legislature. The Driver Responsibility Act (DRA) was enacted in 2003 and the intention was to impose fines and surcharges on Texas drivers who have been cited for moving violations. The system is based on points, where drivers receive two points for a typical moving violation and three points for a violation that results in an accident. A driver who has “earned” six points would be required to pay a $100 surcharge each year the points are on their license, and points stay on a driver’s record for three years. For Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) offenses, the surcharges are much larger. A driver convicted of a first DWI incurs a $1,000 per year surcharge. A driver convicted of a DWI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than 0.15 incurs a $2,000 surcharge.

The surcharges are under widespread attack in the legislature because most believe that they have proven to be counterproductive. The goal was to make Texas drivers better and to provide funding for hospital trauma centers. But in practice, the large surcharges have forced many Texans to stop driving at all, costing them employment opportunities and even family relationships. They have also resulted in many Texans driving without a license at all. This is a terrible outcome that makes Texas roads and highways more dangerous because these drivers have no liability insurance.

There are various proposals to eliminate or reduce the surcharge. One plan proposed by a Tarrant County legislator would reduce or waive DWI surcharges for drivers who participate in drug court programs. It will be of great interest to see what the legislature does on this topic. Like many things the government does, a good intention does not guarantee a good result. With surcharges, the idea was to use fines to encourage Texans to become better drivers and to fund needed hospital services. But the result has been counterproductive as high surcharges have caused many Texans to lose their ability to drive at all.

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