Harris County grand jury to consider evidence in deadly undercover deputy shooting

This last week marked one year since the shooting death of Joshua Johnson.  The 35-year-old was killed by an undercover Harris County deputy on April 22, 2020 in Missouri City.

"The family says we want justice to be served and we’re going to go through the right channels," said family friend James Hudson.  "The killing of Joshua Johnson is a cover up.  The Gulf Coast Violence Tasks Force knows it.  The Harris County Sheriff’s office knows it and the District Attorney’s office knows it."

According to officials, an undercover Harris County deputy had been looking for a Dallas murder suspect that April day near East Ritter Circle.  At the same time, Johnson had been watching over a neighbor’s home who had been sick.  Around 6 a.m., Johnson noticed the unusual car and confronted the would-be undercover deputy with a BB gun.  Moments later, Johnson was shot multiple times and killed.  The deputy did not have a body camera on, because he was undercover.

"The difference between this case and the [George} Floyd case happens to be the cameras," says Congressman Al Green.  "No cameras.  What happens when the cameras are off, and an injustice takes place?  That’s the question we’ve got to have answered and this is the case where we can start it.  Let a jury decide."

Congressman Green says home surveillance video from the incident shows the undercover deputy leave the scene after shooting Johnson.

"Do you do this and just drive away?" asked Green.  "Is that policy?  Is that good policing?"

Since the death of Houston’s own George Floyd, there’s been a rejuvenated public push for policy changes within HPD.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner created a task force in the summer of 2020 to look at HPD policy changes.  The task force has reportedly come up with roughly 100 ideas.  According to Mayor Turner, an announcement is expected this week relating to their recommendations.

"There’s a lot of work that we all have to do to move forward," said Mayor Turner last week.

"The goal is to get everybody home safe," said HPD Chief Troy Finner.  "Not just police officers, [but] the entire community.  Our citizens are going to be very proud of what the mayor’s task for has done."

So far no charges have been filed against the undercover deputy who shot Johnson.

"Harris County DA Office Civil Rights Division prosecutors go to the scene of every officer involved shooting," said a spokesperson from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.  "They conduct thorough, independent reviews, and present all the evidence to a grand jury so that representatives of the community can determine whether criminal charges are warranted."