HOUSTON (KIAH) — The man seen on surveillance video shooting and killing a robber who’d just held-up a southwest Houston taqueria has spoken to Houston Police Department homicide detectives.
That man has not been arrested, so HPD is not releasing his name.
Their conversation with him came Monday, the same day it was announced that it will be up to a grand jury to determine whether or not the shooter will face any criminal charges.
The incident happened late Thursday night at El Ranchito #4 at 6873 S. Gessner Road.
Criminal law professor at the University of Houston Law Center Sandra Guerra Thompson hadn’t seen the surveillance video as of Monday, but she did weigh in on the situation after hearing a description of it.
“Texas law on self defense, which would be what would be invoked here, gives very broad rights of self defense in situations where the person who does the shooting reasonably believes that force is eminently necessary,” Thompson said.
In addition to self defense, she says a person’s right to defense of property could also keep the shooter from facing charges — even if the grand jury determined that the surveillance video shows that the robber had turned to leave the restaurant before the deadly shots were fired.
“Presumably the shooter had given up a wallet I’m guessing,” Thompson said. “And if that is the case, and this is clearly a nighttime robbery, then again use of force would be justified to recover the wallet. But I think most likely it would be viewed as a self-defense case.”
The day of the shooting, Houston Police said that the robber’s gun was actually a fake made out of plastic.
Thompson says that shouldn’t impact whether the grand jury rules the shooting justified or not.
“If the gun was perceived to be real, then it’s an aggravated robbery,” she said. “And frankly, any threat of force and taking of property is robbery.”
It’s unclear when this case will go before the grand jury.
Similar case last month
It’s also unclear if a similar case from December has gone before a grand jury.
On the twelfth of last month, Houston Police say a man used a rifle to shoot and kill a woman who may have been breaking into a car outside of his home in the 2000 block of Harland Drive in Spring Branch.
From what facts have been reported, Thompson says — unlike in the taqueria robber shooting — self-defense rights likely don’t apply in this case.
But she says a different law that’s unique to Texas might still protect the shooter and lead a grand jury to also rule this shooting as justified.
“It’s kind of an extreme law, because it doesn’t require any kind of warning,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t require that you try to use any less lethal force or anything like that. The only limitation is that the person has to reasonably believe that this was the only way to protect the property.”