No charges for off-duty cop who killed teen

Rey Garza approached a "suspicious" car while wearing plain clothes, gun drawn, and allegedly without identifying himself as a cop. What happened to the teen driver is depressingly predictable.

When he approached, Garza said the driver threw the car in reverse and hit him, so he opened fire. But a woman with Santellana told Eyewitness News Garza never identified himself as an officer when he approached with a gun. Thinking they were being robbed, they took off.

Garza was placed on administrative leave. Santellana's family called for justice.

Now, 9 months later, both have had their day in court and a grand jury found there wasn't enough evidence to indict Garza.

Garza "received no injuries requiring medical attention," according to Harris County Sheriff's detectives.

Notable Replies

  1. This should be grounds to strip him of his firearm indefinitely.

  2. It has been said that competent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich...

    ...but this presumes the prosecutor actually wants an indictment.

    Maybe we need to create a new office at the state level, something like special prosecutor for police misconduct.

    Prosecutors need to have a working relationship with police departments to do their job, so it seems inevitable that when a police officer would be the object of a grand jury investigation that conflict of interest should be immediately on the mind of anyone interested in actual justice.

  3. Grand juries don't determine guilt or innocence, they operate under a lower standard of evidence.

    There is no cross examination of witnesses, the prosecutor alone gets to decide what evidence to offer to the grand jury. That's why indictments are generally pretty easy to get.

    But in the special case of police misconduct, the usual logic is very nearly stood on its head.

  4. If a civilian brandished a firearm at a parked car before murdering the driver that civilian would almost certainly be prosecuted, no matter what the driver did.

    Conversely, if the driver of a parked car survived an armed robbery attempt by striking the assailant with his/her vehicle, the driver would almost certainly not be charged.

    In this instance, the undisputable facts are that a teenager was sitting in a parked car, and was shot to death by someone wearing civilian clothes. Everything else is a question of fact, which is what jury trials are supposed to resolve.

    In such a trial, the burden of proof would certainly be on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooter was also the aggressor. However, not bringing the case to trial at all means the district attorney is basically taking the shooter's word for what happened and letting the whole thing slide.

  5. It's okay, I heard the kid was no angel.

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