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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
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Grand Jury Declines |to Indict Police Officer

HOUSTON (CN) - A Harris County grand jury cleared a policeman Tuesday in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

After months of deliberations the grand jury decided not to charge Houston police officer Juventino Castro for the January shooting of 26-year-old Jordan Baker, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The decision came after grand juries in New York and Missouri declined to indict officers for killing unarmed suspects, which set off looting in Ferguson, Mo., traffic-clogging demonstrations in New York City and nationwide protests.

Castro came upon Baker while working a side job as a security officer at a strip mall that had been hit by a string of robberies, the Houston Police Department said in a statement.

"The officer attempted to stop a suspicious male (Baker) in the parking lot. A brief struggle and foot chase ensued. At some point, Baker stopped fleeing and, while reaching into his waistband, charged at the officer.

"Officer Castro, fearing for his life, discharged his duty weapon one time, striking Baker," according to the police statement.

But Baker's mom, Janet Baker, accused Castro of profiling her son, who was wearing a black hoodie, the Chronicle reported.

The panel's decision came as no surprise in Harris County where grand juries have found HPD officers not guilty in all shootings since 2008, according to the Chronicle.

Still, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson reached out to the Baker family following the grand jury's decision.

"I want to express my deepest sympathies to Janet Baker and the entire Baker family," Anderson said in a statement. "I know they are disappointed, but the grand jury's decision means they found that there was no probable cause to believe a crime was committed. It does not constitute an endorsement of the officer's actions."

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