Brian Claunch, 45, Wheelchair-Bound Man Shot By Cop, Bayou Body Count No. 163 (UPDATED)

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A pen, not a weapon.
A double-amputee was shot to death in the head early Saturday morning by a Houston cop who mistook the man's pen for a weapon, HPD says.

Brian Claunch -- ID'd only as being in his 40s -- , 45, was living in a 24-hour supervised group home near Polk and Sidney when the incident occurred about 1:30 a.m.

Police told reporters that Claunch had gotten into a confrontation with a supervisor and someone called 911.

Claunch argued with responding officers and moved on them in such a way that one of them was cornered, HPD spokesperson Jodi Silva told reporters.

"[H]e was situated in a wheelchair holding an unknown object...It's tight quarters in there, and he was able to corner the officer back into the corner of the room," said Silva.

Officer Matthew Marin, a five-year vet, feared for his partner's life and fired the fatal shots, police said.

The case will be reviewed by HPD homicide, internal affairs and a Harris County Grand Jury.

Update: HPD gives its official version of events:

Officers responded to a disturbance at the above residence, the Healing Hands Assisted Home Care, a residence for mentally challenged persons. When officers arrived, they encountered the suspect, seated in a wheelchair. The suspect was agitated and began to yell at the officers and threatened to kill them and the other residents of the home.

As he yelled at the officers, he waved a shiny object in his hand in their direction. The suspect refused the officers' verbal commands to drop the object and advanced in a threatening manner toward one of the officers. As the suspect backed one of the officers into a corner, he attempted to stab the officer with the object. Officer Marin, fearing for his partner's life, and his own safety, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking the suspect. The object was discovered to be a shiny, ball point pen.

And HPD chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. has issued a statement, something not usually done with every police shooting:

On Saturday, September 22, 2012, officers from the Houston Police Department responded to a call for service involving a disturbance with a violent person at 4309 Polk Street. During the response to the incident, an officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of a citizen, Brian C. Claunch.

The Houston Police Department places the highest value on human life and events like these are tragic and unfortunate for everyone involved. All Houston Police Officers receive mandatory crisis intervention training specifically dealing with persons experiencing mental crisis. As we do in all instances of this nature, the Houston Police Department's Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions, and the Harris County District Attorneys Office, Civil Rights Division, are investigating this incident.

In addition, I have also asked the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to monitor and investigate this incident. As I have done throughout my tenure as Police Chief, to the extent I can, the Houston Police Department will be open and transparent in all aspects of our response to this tragic event.

It is my desire to have everyone reserve judgment until all the facts and evidence in this investigation have been gathered.

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Location Info

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Houston Police Department Headquarters

1200 Travis St., Houston, TX

Category: General


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5 comments
wilmj
wilmj

wow... wheelchair bound man moved in a threatening manner toward an officer with a GUN and his partner feared for his safety so it shot the victim in the HEAD because he had backed one of the officers in a corner...where does Houston get these guys from..was the lights out?dark inside they could not see the object was a ball point pen? Did they not have the clubs to knock the dangerous weapon out of his hand?  If a human life was not lost this would be comedy of errors. They have GUNS, and they fear a  mentally challenged double amputee IN A WHEELCHAIR WITH A SHINY BALL POINT PEN  AGAIN WOW..T hey should be given life for murder! I been around for a while and you see it through out the united states DETROIT OHIO LOS ANGELES other cities and nothing happens "justified!he had a weapon and the officer  was in a corner!" What could he have done? MOVE OUT THE WAY, USE TASER , Start punishing officers for unnecessary force give one 25-life and watch the change take place!! Like robinwwjd said nothing will come of it, they clean it up and give them a citation or something like that but they have a higher source to answer to. Yrs ago (1975) los angeles police shot a woman 18TIMES because she threw a knife at two officers stop them from cutting off her gas winter time she had kids, knife was no where near the officers she no longer had the knife they had 6 shot revolvers, they reloaded and shot her six more times! Daryl gates police chief said justified they feared for their life case closed! Sad part today is that someone will say its OK they couldn't tell it was a shiny ink pen and they were afraid. the solution:  get a safer job. They all want to be cowboys with power of life and death  

robinwwjd
robinwwjd

robinvarner,

I am truly sorry for your loss.  It is a sad day when this is how our most vunerable are treated.  Thank you for posting your story.  I am from Arkansas and I am ashamed to say we have the same problem.  I too have a family member plaqued with mental illness.  So I can only say I am sorry.  Hopefully your story will help someone to realize that they will have to find other avenues to get help. It is still wrong, that the police are dealing with the mentally ill.  Its obvious they shouldn't be.  Here, the county (benton) had the money for swat to send  a robot to go in the house before he shot himself.  It seems the funding from the robot could have been used in a better way to provide real help.  Oklahoma implemented a mobile unit for such calls that are certified to get them placed on 24 hr hold and to the hospital, not killed. Someone was really smart in Oklahoma....

robinvtx
robinvtx

This is a real tragedy. But believe me HPD Nor City hall CARES . Sept 19 was 3 yrs for my husband of 32 year and father to our then 21 yr son. It was a tragedy then too. The houston press reported it. the story printed isn't the truth. HPD homicide division did their investigation to make sure that the SWAT cop who killed my husband didn't commit a crime. NOTHING WILL COME OF THIS just like for us. If there is a family they won't even hear from HPD anymore unless they approach them. Justice is never served for the humans they kill. I remember HPD cop saying that night please try and get your husband come out of house cause SWAT is on their way and once they get here..... What? I asked...no response..I knew 2 hours before how it was going to end and the ending simply a TRAGEDY. my son lost his father and I lost a husband when all he needed was an ambulance to go to a psychiatric facility.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Nothing will come from this. No cops will be punished.

Cops in Houston forget that they are public servants, not our bosses. You'd never know that by the way they treat people here.

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