Houston Police Officer Shoots Mentally Ill Double Amputee For Threatening Him With A Pen

A police officer in Houston shot and killed a man on Saturday, claiming that the man was threatening them and that he “[f]ear[ed] for his partner’s safety and his own safety” at the time of the shooting. The circumstances of the shooting, however, raise serious questions about just how threatening the shooting victim could have been:

A Houston police officer shot and killed a one-armed, one-legged man in a wheelchair Saturday inside a group home after police say the double amputee threatened the officer and aggressively waved a metal object that turned out to be a pen. . . . [Police spokeswoman Jodi Silva] said the man came “within inches to a foot” of the officer and did not follow instructions to calm down and remain still.

“Fearing for his partner’s safety and his own safety, he discharged his weapon,” Silva told The Associated Press.

Police did not immediately release the name of the man who was killed. They had been called to the home after a caretaker there called and reported that the man in wheelchair was causing a disturbance.

The owner of the group home, John Garcia, told the Houston Chronicle that the man had a history of mental illness and had been living at the house about 18 months. Garcia said the man had told him that he lost a leg above the knee and all of one arm when he was hit by a train.

This is not the first example of Houston police using a questionable amount of force against a mentally ill suspect. A 2007 study determined that Houston police unnecessarily used Tasers on the mentally ill, even when police were warned about the person’s mental health condition.