Houston grand jury clears cop in shooting of unarmed black man

Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY 7:39 p.m. EST December 23, 2014

A grand jury in Houston declined to indict a police officer Tuesday in the shooting death of an unarmed African-American man.

The Harris County, Texas, grand jury met for months to consider whether veteran police officer Juventino Castro should face criminal charges for the shooting death of Jordan Baker in January.

The decision comes after months of protests over police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y., being cleared for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both unarmed black men.

The family of Baker, 26, anxiously awaited the decision Tuesday, along with a handful of protesters. Baker wore a black hoodie at the time of the shooting, and his family argued that he was profiled by Castro.

When the shooting occurred, Baker was at a northwest Houston strip mall that had been the site of a string of robberies. The Houston Police Department said Baker was looking in windows when Castro, who had been on the force for 10 years, approached him.

(Photo: Family photo)


Baker struggled, ran away, then allegedly put his hands in his waistband and charged toward Castro. That’s when Castro shot and killed him.

Baker was later determined to be unarmed.

Castro was working an extra job as a security officer for the mall at the time and was in his HPD uniform.

After Tuesday’s decision, Baker’s mother said her son was doing nothing wrong at the time of the incident.

“I intend to seek justice for Jordan,” said Janet Baker, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We just have a lot of work to do.”

Monday in Milwaukee, protesters took to the streets after the district attorney announced he would not bring charges against an ex-police officer who shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times after getting into a tussle with him in a downtown park.

Hamilton, 31, had a history of mental illness. The officer in that incident, Christopher Manney, was fired by Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn for failing to follow department guidelines for dealing with mentally ill people.

Contributing: KHOU-TV

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