Rare Houston Indictment In Police Use Of Force Case


Each time a police officer uses deadly force, wounding or killing a civilian, prosecutors gather facts but grand juries rarely return indictments. Even less common, says a Houston Chronicle review, are cases where an officer is convicted. Last week's indictment of white Bellaire, Tx., Police Sgt. Jeff Cotton, who shot a black man in his own driveway in an incident that raised allegations of racial profiling, was the first time in more than three years that an officer in Harris County has been charged in such a shooting. In recent years, local officers have shot an average of 32 people.

Deadly force cases are emotionally charged, said South Texas College of Law's Geoffrey Corn. “These are hard cases,” he said. “I have a visceral reaction to those who say these cases aren't fair, that juries don't convict enough. [] When we start saying that juries are incapable of trying this type of case or that, we kind of gut our concepts of justice. Juries are not always right, but if the process is fair, the outcome is respectable.”

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