HOUSTON, TX – Another week, and, sadly, another case of a Houston police officer killing an apparently unarmed civilian. This latest shooting occurred shortly after midnight in the 3400block of Sampson, south of the downtown area.
Police say they were called after someone broke into a house and sexually assaulted a juvenile male and got into a fight with an elderly man before returning to his nearby house.
At this point, the story gets a bit murky and becomes a case of ‘he said’, ‘she said’, because ‘somebody’s dead’.
‘This individual who comes outside and is on the porch at the time, and he is rather verbally abusive to the officer, and he has his left hand behind his back,’ said John Cannon, a police department spokesman.
Witness Creola Scott saw something different. ‘The officer pulled up and said ‘Come out the house’. And the man came out of his house, right there. And the officer backed up all the way to that corner of Francis and Samson. And the man came out like this (spreads arms apart).’
Cannon says as 37-year-old Kenneth Brian Releford continued his verbal abuse, ‘the officer says ‘OKAY, just show me your hands, uh, you know, stay right there’. Instead of doing that, the suspect disobeys those commands, and immediately makes his way toward the officer and the officer’s patrol vehicle.’
‘The boy didn’t say nuthin’,’ Scott said. ‘He just shot him, POW! Because the boy was walking up to him. He called the boy to him. And when he called the boy to him, the boy walking toward him, and he shot him, right there in the middle of street on Sampson and Francis. Right there. And then the boy got up, and when the boy got up, he stumbled back toward Francis that way. And the man said `Don`t run, don`t, come back here, come back here.` Well, the boy turn around and start coming back here, he shot him again. The cop shot him right there, and just left him laying down there in the middle of the street.’
‘Just like many of our officers, a little bit emotionally shaken, because this is the last thing our guys want to do,’ Cannon said. ‘And especially when this individual had put him in a position of concealing and putting his arm behind his back the entire time. And that officer had his duty weapon drawn and waited until the last possible moment, to when the suspect was within about five feet before he discharged his duty weapon.’
Police say they found no weapon on Releford, and they don’t know why he assaulted his neighbors. Other neighbors said Releford was mentally disturbed from being in the military.
Another shooting to go into the growing file no one wants to see get any bigger.