Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Double Amputee In Wheelchair Shot Dead By Houston Police—A Complete Investigation Is Required

(Update–9/24/12.  The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Police have asked the FBI to monitor the invesitigation into the shooting of Mr. Claunch.)  

A Houston police officer shot and killed double amputee who was threatening to stab an officer with what turned out to be a pen.

The dead man is Brian Claunch. Above you see a picture of Mr. Claunch.

The name of the officer who pulled the trigger was Matthew Marin.

From the Houston Chronicle

“A schizophrenic double amputee waving a writing pen from his wheelchair was fatally shot early Saturday by a Houston police officer, authorities said….Police were called to the East End personal care home around 2 a.m. because resident Brian Claunch had become agitated after his caretaker refused to give him a soda and a cigarette…. “He was approaching them aggressively,” said Houston Police Department spokes­woman Jodi Silva. “He was attempting to stab them with what is now found to be a pen.”..Claunch, who had been living at the home for the past 18 months with two other men, ignored officers’ commands and made threats against them and other occupants of the home… Claunch trapped one of the officers in a corner, authorities said…Claunch told him that he lost his right leg to just above the knee and all of his right arm when he was hit by a train… The victim, who was in his mid-40s, came to the East End personal care home more than a year ago, as part of a placement by the Harris County guardianship program. …Claunch liked to “doodle” and two days ago…(was) given…a black felt pen to draw with.” 

Here is the report on the shooting from Houston TV station KPRC. 

I am not in the shoes of the police officers involved in the incident. There should be a proper investigation. There are times in life when we call police officers and they are helpful.

At the same time, this case should be out there and not forgotten. Police officers can kill a person and get away with it even if what they have done is wrong.

It does seem possible that a double amputee in a wheelchair waving a pen could be have been dealt with in a manner other than shooting him.

Mr. Claunch could not have been tasered?

The Associated Press story about the incident says that the officer who shot Mr. Claunch had in 2009 shot and killed a person who had stabbed someone and who would not put down his knife.

It would be interesting to know what mental health assistance the Houston Police Department offered the officer after that shooting. It would also be interesting to know the quality of the facility where Mr. Claunch was staying.

A follow up story from the Chronicle disccuses concerns from some in Houston about how Houston Police deal with citizens who may be mentally ill. 

From the Chronicle—

“Advocates are calling for better training and more discipline after a Houston police officer fatally shot a mentally ill double-amputee in a wheelchair on Saturday, the third unarmed person police have shot in less than three months.”

 The people of Houston should  ask that a complete and fair investigation take place, and that the findings of such an investigation be acted upon in a way that reflects the facts of the shooting.
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September 24, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

14 Comments »

  1. “It does seem possible that a double amputee in a wheelchair waving a pen could be have been dealt with in a manner other than shooting him.”

    It does indeed seem like two cops with all of their appendages could contain one man who had only half of his. We’ll have to see what their report shares with us, hoping of course we get a full and objective account.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 24, 2012

  2. It seems Neil and Woodgate are already leaning towards condemning this officer even though reports ask that the community reserve judgement. As you stated, you weren’t there and hind sight is 20/20. You seem to look down your noses at the actions of the officers involved and write in such a biased manner. Why were the cops there in the first place if this guy was simply…waving a pen? If he was a helpless amputee, why couldn’t the trained staff handle him? I would ask for you to imagine a psychopath coming at you with something trying to stab you with it. Do you care if its a knife or a pen or a stick? You seem to scoff at the fact it was just a pen he had. You should check out how many instances there are of people killing other people with a pen, maybe you wouldn’t think this is so incredulous. The Chronicle lumped this in with two other “unarmed” shootings involving officers this year. The fact that he was threatening to stab people, most likely trying to stab people, with an object means he wasn’t unarmed. it simply wasn’t a conventional weapon, but could have inflicted injury and even death all the same.

    It may also seem absurd that a double amputee could gain advantage on a trained officer, but I can imagine how fast someone in a wheelchair could close ground on them and back them into a corner – can’t you? I am sure this thing got out of control in a matter of seconds and in that amount of time an officer of the law doesn’t share the luxury of speculation the two of you enjoy behind your keyboards.

    You were diligent in bringing up the fact that this officer was involved in another shooting in 2009. I think the facts of that case stated the assailant had stabbed 1 person and was presently stabbing his girlfriend to death when he was shot and killed. If that had been your daughter would you be so quick to judge this officer? If his partner was your son, the man whose life he was protecting, would you change your insulated opinions?

    You gentleman shouldn’t be so biased and quick to judge. Give this time and respect the men and women who put their lives on the line EVERY day. You may have to call for their assistance in the near future and it just may be Officer Matthew Marin that answers that call….without bias towards you.

    Comment by Mike | September 24, 2012

  3. Well thank you very much Officer Mike for this interesting take on the story.

    Comment by bacopa | September 25, 2012

  4. Get off your high horse Mike. Nobody here is looking down their noses at the actions of the officers involved. Cops do have a rough job dealing with crazies everyday. This of course can push some good cops over the limit and over react. One of my questions would be “where were their taser guns on this one”?

    You did notice the part of the report that stated he was “waving a writing pen from his wheelchair ..” didn’t you?

    From his wheelchair Mike. Two cops with four legs and arms couldn’t subdue a man with two appendages missing and was in a wheel chair doesn’t raise any suspicions with you?

    You may be guilty yourself of looking in one direction more than the other.

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 25, 2012

  5. The fact that the City of Houston is getting the FBI involved may indicate a measure of concern on the part of the city about the facts of the shooting.

    Comment by Neil Aquino | September 25, 2012

  6. Bacopa- your welcome, but I am not an officer. I am just an individual who doesn’t appreciate someone bending facts, known or not, to suit their personal beliefs.

    Woodgate – Do you really think this guy was just “waving a writing pen” and they shot him for it? The report also stated he was “swinging the object in a threatening manner towards them” and “he attempted to stab the officer”. He didn’t shoot him for waving it, he shot him because the insane person tried to stab him.

    I am certain they will find out about the whereabouts of his taser in the final report, but will any of us hear or see the report. Will you and Neil care to revisit the situation when the officer is found to be innocent of any wrong doing? Probably not because it won’t be worth writing about, in the news or even this blog. It will drop off the radar and everyone will be on the hunt for the next thing to criticize.

    I think its a strange set of events – sad all the way around. A man lost his life and another man took it. But just because someone is in a wheel chair doesn’t preclude them from being capable of doing things we assume they cannot. He had one arm and one leg that gave him the ability to move around and function. Perhaps the officers underestimated him and let their guards down and lost control of the situation – fast. I can and would imagine that before thinking these guys simply shot a defenseless man making like a fairy granting wishes with a Marks-A-Lot…which really seems how you guys feel here.

    I see the direction you guys took it and clearly showed light on other possibilities – that’s all.

    Neil-Your right. The City of Houston is asking the FBI to monitor their NORMAL investigation into a police shooting. They want to make sure the public knows they have nothing to hide or cover up in the investigation process. HPD Homicide Detectives and Internal Affairs will pull out more information once they have it. Then, and only then, should any of us make up our minds on what happened in that room between those 3 men. If it was unjustified, the officer should go to federal prison. If it was justified…he goes back to work protecting people like you and me….awaiting more scrutiny

    Comment by Mike | September 25, 2012

  7. “Woodgate – Do you really think this guy was just “waving a writing pen” and they shot him for it? The report also stated he was “swinging the object in a threatening manner towards them” and “he attempted to stab the officer”.

    Oh, so you’re going to choose which comments are valid and disallow the others. Unless you were there Mark your take on this is slanted, believing what you want and disregarding any other likely scenario.

    “He didn’t shoot him for waving it, he shot him because the insane person tried to stab him.”

    The key word you have rightly stated here is “Tried”. Let me reiterate this. THE MAN IS MISSING TWO APPENDAGES AND IS IN A WHEEL CHAIR. Are you suggesting that the officer who shot him was incapable of out maneuvering the handicapped man?

    “Will you and Neil care to revisit the situation when the officer is found to be innocent of any wrong doing?”

    I’m sure you’ll let us know and if the facts bare this out I’ll be glad to acknowledge it. Why would you think I wouldn’t? After all I did state in my original comment that “We’ll have to see what their report shares with us, hoping of course we get a full and objective account.”

    Most people would understand this to mean I have not yet made my mind up. How do you not see that?

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 26, 2012

  8. I won’t disallow anything Woodgate. You chose to edit the report in your comments by skipping the “stabbing” and focusing on the “waving”. You might as well have said the cops shot this guy because he wanted a coke and a smoke.

    The key word is “tried”????? Really. Would you rather the report read OFFICER STABBED REPEATEDLY BY DOUBLE AMPUTEE?? He didn’t stab him because his partner decided to protect him. Again, if it were your son that was about to be attacked you would be grateful…..wouldn’t you? I am suggesting the officers used their judgement to appraise the situation and handle it accordingly. Until the official report come out, that is all I can do….and you should too.

    The keyword you used was “hoping” in regards to getting full disclosure of the case. That tells me you will not believe it if they find this case justifiable. I would actually turn a complete 180 degrees and join you in shaming an officer of the law for mishandling this tragic situation if it were to come to light he was not justified in drawing his weapon. Right now, I must believe in the good guys and support them in any action that gets them home safely. And truthfully, I can fathom an insane man with one leg and one arm becoming out of control and creating a seriously dangerous situation. That’s why the police were called in the first place.

    Comment by Mike | September 26, 2012

  9. I think Officer Mike didn’t catch my sarcasm, so I will be much more blunt: While I appreciate that the police sometimes put their lives on the line to protect our safety, there is no other word to describe an officer who resorts to gunfire to control a one armed one legged man in a wheelchair, even if he had a knife, than “coward”.

    Comment by bacopa | September 27, 2012

  10. This is a terrible situation and my problem with it is the visual I can not get out of my head! I see a man in a wheelchair kicking his one leg on the floor to advance forward which no matter how strong your leg is does not propel the chair forward fast enough to not be able to see what is in the only other hand of this person especially if it’s being waved at (me).

    Comment by chris | September 27, 2012

  11. Bacopa – you should have used the sarcasm font – which I would have on this sentence if it existed. I figured you were being sarcastic but gave you the benefit of the doubt – I will be sure to not let that happen again. Officers risk their lives every day by putting on the uniform and becoming a target – that’s a fact even you should be able to realize. To call a man a coward without knowing, I mean KNOWING, with your own senses, what went on and how dramatic it really was is at best a foolish thing. BTW – that coward saved the life of a person being stabbed to death 5 years ago. Maybe talk to them before passing your unfounded judgement.

    Chris – I agree with it being a terrible situation, but you are using your imagination when you envision this guy one legging his way across an open floor. You have followed the pack right down the path that media wants you to go down. You don’t know what happened in that room and how this guy got the advantage on these officers. I guarantee you I could close the distance of 10 feet in a fraction of a second by pushing off my desk with one leg in my office chair. This guy had 5 years to figure out how to manage his wheel chair…plus, I would imagine he could stand and lunge forward at least once without much issue. I doubt the group home had a large space that big for him to travel- so the timing would have been cut by half. Why is that so difficult to fathom? And the “WAVING” comment comes back. He was going to “STAB” the officer’s partner…but it was just a pen after all – right (hindsight is a wonderful thing because you have more information then). By the comments listed on this post, it seems like everyone here is OK with being stabbed by a pen. For me, I don’t care if it is a knife, pen or toothbrush – I don’t want to be stabbed in the arm, eye or heart by either.

    None of the speculation really matters. Let’s wait to see what the investigation brings out….but I don’t think it will change any of your minds.

    Comment by Mike | September 27, 2012

  12. Mike, I’m not going down a path with anyone, I just want to properly understand. So, THANK YOU for helping me get a better perspective. While you make a WONDERFUL argument about propelling yourself from your desk I can understand how someone can build up a lot of speed that way. Unlike an office chair a wheelchair can not be turned around so easily, so he would be traveling backwards until he came to a slower pace to be able to turn the chair around, which can be done fairly easily. However, that would leave his one hand on the wheel with the unknown object (at the time) in it or perhaps it was in his chair. The paper states the officers told him 1.) to calm down 2.) lower his voice or something (that’s not in this article) the man was telling the officers about his amputee so there was face to face interaction at some point. What I want to know is how did it get from that (interaction) to shooting this man? And he’s had 18 months to practice his wheelchair tricks (actually give him a month post op). Happy Friday!! 8)

    Comment by chris | September 28, 2012

  13. “I agree with it being a terrible situation, but you are using your imagination when you envision this guy one legging his way across an open floor.”

    How do you manage to put yourself outside this scenario Mike? Did I miss something? We’re you an eye witness to this event?

    Comment by lbwoodgate | September 28, 2012

  14. No, I wasn’t there. Neither were you Woodgate. Nor was Bacopa, Chris or Neil for that matter. So why jump to a conclusion with assumptive scenarios that you all built in your own biased minds? You can say that you were waiting for the investigation’s findings to make a judgement, but you know you were already leaning to the fact the officer was wrong.

    I put myself outside every ASSUMED scenario. That’s why I commented on this in the first place. I could tell no one else here did…they just assumed there was a helpless man in a wheel chair that officers shot because they were on a power trip of some kind. Everyone on this thread found it improbable that a double amputee could pose a threat to an officer who had all his faculties. I am merely trying to broaden those narrow-minded views that are being shared here.

    BTW….has anybody cared to follow up on this case lately?

    Comment by Mike | October 2, 2012


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