The Houston Chronicle had a well written article by Lise Olsen, “HPD officer who shot boy failed firearms test” which explained how one tragic police shooting incident has made its way through the criminal and civil courts as it continues to draw public scrutiny into the methods and means whereby Houston Police Officers are trained in the use of firearms. I wanted to add my “two cents worth” while at the same time making a couple of points clear.
I wasn’t a witness, either at the scene or at the court proceedings and I don’t have first hand knowledge of the facts involved and it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific evidence involved regarding this case. I am, however, a retired Houston Police Officer and found some of the comments attached to the article disturbing, not that I was shocked to find them, disturbing in the amount of animosity generated toward police officers in general.
In the criminal courts, Officer Arthur J. Carbonneau was convicted of negligent homicide for the Nov. 21, 2003, shooting of Escobar and sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years’ probation. I find it unfortunate that any criminal court’s deliberations would find it necessary to include either jail time or probation when at no time was it ever shown that Officer Carbonneau criminally intended to harm anyone. The fact that he no longer was permitted to be employed as a police officer eliminated further danger to the public; any time in jail or reporting to a probation officer implies vengeance or the need for remedial training rather than justice, if in fact the incident was accidental as has been reported. So, was it an accident or was former officer Carbonneau involved in some sinister plot, a long developed antagonism toward the general public which required hard time in a cell?
The civil courts are now faced with determining all the rest; and that may prove to be the downfall of the entire system which we call the Houston Police Department. In our quest to assign negligence or areas which need improvement there is the danger of destroying the foundations upon which the Department operates, mutual trust that the officers and the citizens whom they serve have enough faith in their common goals. It is quite possible that such a foundation no longer exists in which case our civilization is doomed to chaos and mutual destruction as fear has replaced judgment.
I mentioned that some of the comments to the Chronicle article were disturbing; hopefully these are a small minority of the citizenry’s opinions regarding the Houston Police Department. I hope the following opinions are from those who hate all authority figures and are not representative of the majority.
“There is nothing accidental about any police murder in Houston, TX. This article is a non-issue. Would this Escobar child be less dead, if Officer Carbonneau had been a sharpshooter? The only thing unique about this incident is that the cop is no longer a cop.”
“Just another case of cold blooded murder by cop.”
“Wait just a dog gone minute....HPD and Harris County Deputies can do no wrong. That's what the people in this area think. The truth is that we have sure let a lot of poor performing officers into the ranks in the last few years. This incident is just another tip of the trouble iceberg.”
To “fiddler 55”, “epp1” and “HowdyHouston” I could say nothing that would touch your twisted hate filled minds; your words hold nothing back as they proclaim your total disgust and disrespect for our entire society, a society which includes the Houston Police Department and Harris County Deputies, a society which you claim to be part of. I find it sad that anyone would give ear to you; unfortunately your voices combine and resonate enough to chip away at the foundations in such a way as to eventually crumble our trust in each other.
My opinion is that the great majority of the individuals who serve as police officers hold the highest regard for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to such a degree as to desire to preserve these intangible rights for their neighbors while exposing themselves to great danger. Those individuals who fall short of these high standards will inevitably draw the spot light when found to be in error; however, let us remember that the Houston Police Department is a reflection of the society which it represents.