Houston police allegedly kill man with his hands in the air, take cell phone from witness

By End the Lie

In yet another case of witnesses completely contradicting the official story, the individuals who witnessed the killing of Rufino Lara at the hands of officers of the Houston Police Department disputed just about every single purported fact put forth by the police.

This entire case isn’t all that surprising considering that police in another urban area, New York City, identified people who exercise their right to film police as “professional agitators.” Furthermore, this is the same department which employs the officers who arrested a woman for holding a sign warning motorists of an upcoming police speed trap.

According to the Houston Police Department, Lara was walking away and refusing to stop and recognize the commands of officer J. McGowan in both English and Spanish.

McGowan was investigating an assault and according to officials from the department, Lara kept one of his hands tucked under his shirt. When Lara turned around suddenly, allegedly with his hands still under his shirt, McGowan shot and killed him.

Now two witnesses have called just about every single aspect of the official story into question.

One witness is family friend Florida Ruvio who happened to bump into Lara while returning from a nearby liquor store in southwest Houston, according to the Houston Chronicle.

According to Ruvio, Lara said that some unknown men were pursuing him with a knife and asked him to call the police.

Two officers arrived to the scene to investigate the reported assault and when police approached Lara and told him to stop and raise his hands, “They were speaking to him in English only,” according to Ruvio.

According to Ruvio, Lara does not speak English and did not stop the first time. However, he did put both hands up against the wall and faced his back to the officers.

Ruvio further contradicts the official story by saying, “He didn’t have his hands in his pocket or his shirt,” adding that she remained with Lara throughout the entire incident.

Ruvio said that when Lara turned around the face the officers, he was shot and killed by McGowan, still with his hands in the air.

When Ruvio yelled at McGowan, saying that she had killed an innocent person, McGowan responded by claiming that “he had drawn out a gun.”

McGowan then tore open Lara’s shirt and took off his shoes, according to Ruvio, and no weapon was ever recovered.

When Ruvio attempted to film what was going on with her cell phone, she said that one of the officers seized it forcibly and told her that she could not record anything.

Another witness to the event was 14-year-old Rigoberto Rubio, who was not a personal friend of Lara.

Rubio was purchasing water from a machine nearby where Lara was standing with both of his hands against the wall.

Unsurprisingly, the Houston Police Department has refused to comment on the allegations leveled against them. The department claimed that there was currently an internal affairs investigation into the shooting of Lara, thereby barring them from commenting on it.

However, Houston Police Department Chief Charles McCelland did release a statement dealing with the incident in a somewhat oblique manner.

“The Houston Police Department places the highest value on the preservation of human life. Police officers have the difficult task of making split-second decisions to keep themselves and others safe on a daily basis,” stated McCelland.

McClelland also stated that a grand jury in Harris County will also be looking over the evidence in the killing of Lara with both the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office conducting investigations as well.

“The investigation will be open and transparent, and we ask that the public withhold judgment until all the facts and evidence has been gathered and the investigation is complete,” said McClelland.

Unfortunately, based on historical precedent, I seriously doubt that this investigation will be either open or transparent. Police aren’t all that great at investigating themselves.

Ovide Duncantell, the director of the Black Heritage Society agrees.

“These officers are never ever called to justice,” Duncantell said. “We need a police review board … because somebody we paid and trusted to defend us is killing us.”

Members of the community, Lara’s family and witnesses recently gathered together at a news conference arranged by the Great Houston Coalition for Justice.

One attendee, Lara’s nephew Jose Lara, defended his uncle saying, “He wasn’t a troublemaker. This was cold-blooded murder.”

To be fair, Lara did have a criminal record. However, his record was far from damning considering he had been charged with trespassing and giving false information to a police officer, both misdemeanors.

Personally, I do not think that his record should have any bearing on the manner whatsoever. Instead, I think we should pay attention solely to the facts and the completely contradictory accounts coming from the witnesses.

While the police officers clearly have something to gain from lying about what happened before the trigger was pulled, the witnesses on the other hand, do not.

As Carlos Miller pointed out, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas has spoken out recently, specifically citing the problem of the police preventing the video from being taken.

“It’s a shame we can’t see the video the witness reportedly tried to make,” said ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke, according to Houston Press.

“Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland has asked for the public to withhold judgment about the shooting. The right of Texans to record police activity in a manner that does not interfere with police work is an important protection against abuses of power by the government,” Burke stated in a press release.

“The behavior of some members of the local police department might be less suspect if officers showed more respect for the Constitution, and, in this instance, the First Amendment,” Burke added.

Keese Smith, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department, commented on the filming of police in general, while refusing to comment directly on this case.

According to Smith, officers are repeatedly informed that “pretty much every action that they take, they should assume that they’re being videotaped. So this isn’t new.”

“Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right — and that includes police and other government officials carrying out their duties,” said Rebecca Robertson, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, in the press release.

Indeed, it is our right and we should exercise it as regularly as possible. Thankfully, there has been at least one victory as of late, such as the judge’s decision in Illinois. One might count the dropping of charges against a man in Florida for videotaping a traffic stop as well, if pressed.

Hopefully there will be some progress in this case and the officers will not only be held accountable for the killing but also their effort to prevent individuals from exercising their rights and potentially recording evidence.

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12 Responses to Houston police allegedly kill man with his hands in the air, take cell phone from witness

  1. Garth Sears July 15, 2012 at 7:53 AM

    Frightening. Our municipal police are behaving each day more like the former E. German STASI.
    The most disturbing thing about municipal police (tested to an average I.Q. well below 100 in every city police force in this nation) is the pronouncement that “you can’t photo/film me as I commit murder of an unarmed man with his empty hands raised over his head”. If any footage filmed in this instance is erased by any police officer – not only would it be Felony-Obstruction-of-Justice, but would also be Collusion (to destroy evidence of the police officer’s criminal act).
    We, The People, should have EVERY RIGHT to arrest these police officers when they commit criminal acts (such as “confiscating” your filmed footage of their committing questionable or clearly criminal acts). At the very least – a citizen/photographer/film-maker should be able to INSIST/demand that any such footage be surrendered to a police Supervisor & be given a signed receipt w/ the badge # of the supervising police officer to whom the digital media was surrendered.
    My sympathy to the family of the man who called the police for help, but alas, seemingly was murdered by the very people he assumed were coming to help.

    Reply
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  3. infiltratedcountry July 15, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    This is not right. Not the cop and not the criminal. In our legal immigration system you must learn basic English. This was not a natural U.S. citizen. If he cared about our system he would learn our language. His friend and this story make statements about his lack of our language somehow makes him innocent. It does not. It makes him a criminal. Notice the one witness is a friend of the deceased that was not there for questioning. Well he says he was returning from a liquor store. The story says it so I must point it out. If he was under the effects of a mind altering substance then how credible is his testimony?
    Another point is that somehow now every police officer must be bilingual because the criminal is too lazy to learn the language of the country he is invading?
    When entering a violent situation an peace officer must be ready to act or be killed. Sad but true. If we continually bring our enemies to live beside us then what do we expect? They must be ready to act in self defense. I do not like this situation that made an officer have to make that kind of choice. But since we are letting our country be invaded then what choice is there? Our government giving us the feeling of hopelessness in an effort to complete the oppression of the Natural United States Citizen. It is a technique that is part of subjugation. The control that they employ over every single Natural United States Citizen.

    Reply
    • swampwitch July 15, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      I have nothing but shame for the fact I live amongst people like yourself, racist, bigoted and without humanity. There is no excuse for taking the life of a person who is no threat and carries no weapon, regardless of their nationality. It is not against the law to be in this country without knowing English and your arguments are blatantly without substance. I wish everyone with your mentality and lack of love for all humanity could be forced to leave the country, exiled in the name of all that is good and decent.

      Reply
      • patriot guard July 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

        swampwitch you must be about twelve because you do not even understand the definition of the words you are writing. This article did not mention race and neither did infiltrated. I am ashamed that you are part of this country. If you could blow this out of proportion any more it would be close to armageddon in proportion. Nobody is forced to leave their country blahblahblah. The united states is about doing for your self. Or at least it was till the infiltration

        Reply
    • Aztex2012 July 16, 2012 at 6:25 PM

      The guy was facing the wall with his hands held over his head. It would seem he had an idea the policeman would expect such behavior. There is no excuse for this incident and similar ones played out across the nation every day. I believe these “snap judgments’ when putting their lives at risk is way overkilled. How many cops do you hear about every day getting murdered by someone they were investigating? I have not heard of a single one in years. The fact is most citizens are peaceful and law abiding, and do what they are told. It would be better if these cops had some respect and “asked” people for cooperation instead of ordering people around. Taking the camera was also unacceptable, the cop needs to be in prison and prevented from ever being employed in such a position ever again, along with all the others just like him. My email junk box is crammed full of ads for police academies every day. These young video game junkies have been murdering violent beings every day virtually. They are much too quick to draw and fire. Playing video games and paintball and other potentially brainwashing games regularly. People can normally be expected to cooperate with police when they are treated with respect. And it would be nice if everyone could speak more than one language, with the number of Hispanics in this country, to maintain a good paying job, people need to be bilingual. The world is too populated and refugees and immigrants will keep coming here by the drolls like they do in every country. Cant we all just get along? : (

      Reply
  4. Swamp Fox July 15, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    What are you kidding Me Come On HPD would never beat somebody half to death and hand cuffed throw them in Buffalo Bayou …. I Mean Throw Don Gun … HPD doesn’t even know how to spell White Suprmecist Racists ….. Come On HPD nah they be a pack of PUSSIES

    Reply
  5. Stephen Jones July 16, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    @ infiltratedcountry.

    YOU are a disgrace to humanity & there will never be world peace as long as there are people like you in the world

    Quote: His friend and this story make statements about his lack of our language somehow makes him innocent. It does not. It makes him a criminal.

    This statement alone beggers belief! A criminal because he can’t speak your language? Based on that retarded line of reasoning that would make every foreign visitor on holiday in a country where they don’t speak the language a criminal from the moment they land……….

    Reply
    • Anonymous July 16, 2012 at 6:43 AM

      agreed what a moron @infiltratedcountry.

      Reply
  6. sheila July 16, 2012 at 5:54 AM

    just more blue gang bs,

    in the next incarnation of society let not hire the blue gang to protect us, let do it ourselves,.

    survivingsurvivalism.com

    Reply
  7. RICHARD RALPH ROEHL July 23, 2012 at 7:55 PM

    Police are really nothing more than ‘agents’ of the Amerikan ruling class and the merchant class. They serve NOT the worker class or the peasant class in faster poo-food Amerika. The murder of Rufino Lara is typical behavior of police enforcement agents in the capitalist/fascist $ystem of the United $tates (of Perpetual War Profiteering). Everything about the so called ‘land of the free’ and ‘home of the brave’ is gawd damn lie. Indeed! All the lone gunman lies… tell the tale of collapsing empire on fire. Yesss… Old Coyote Knose that Rome is burning!

    Reply
  8. lauren trathen September 5, 2012 at 2:54 AM

    officer j mcgowan u are the scum of the earth. u deserve to die you mother******! all USA police are MORONS! and thats putting it lightly.

    Reply

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