No indictment for deputy constable in deadly shooting of Ashtian Barnes
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - After two sessions, a grand jury has not indicted a Harris County Precinct 5 deputy constable in the April 28 deadly shooting of Ashtian Barnes.
“What we can say is that the presentation was comprehensive and responsive to the needs of the grand jury,” said Harris County District Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Division Chief Julian Ramirez. “The 183rd Grand Jury handled this case with great care.”
Texas law forbids the disclosure of grand jury proceedings, which includes the names of the witnesses who testified and any documents or evidence presented, but does allow the release of footage for review by family upon the completion of the investigation.
Barnes' father, Tommy Barnes, disagreed with the jury's findings and said of the video, "if you pay close attention, this man shot my son before the car moved."
The video is currently circulating on social media after being shared on Barnes' Facebook page.
"I want to express my deepest sympathies to Ashtian Barnes’ family,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. "I know they are disappointed, but the grand jury's decision means they found that there was no probable cause to believe a murder or other assaultive offense was committed. It does not constitute an endorsement of the officer's actions."
At least nine of the 12 grand jurors needed to find probable cause to indict the deputy constable. DA Anderson said that the panel's decision shows there was not enough evidence for a charge.
A protest was held the same evening with father Tommy Barnes and members of the Black Lives Matter community. Those who gathered were alarmed at the heavy police presence for what was publicized as a peaceful gathering.
"We are unarmed, 8-10 people out here," noted Ashton Woods, who helped organize the gathering. "Forty cops looking at us like we're animals in a zoo, like we're going to hurt this building that we pay taxes for?"
A police spokesman gave no comment on the high ratio of police to protesters, except to say all protests are "staffed accordingly."
2015 saw twelve fatal police-involved shootings, according to http://www.houstontx.gov/. Protesters said they feel not enough officers are held properly accountable.
"We're supposed to have faith in the justice system. I am not surprised. You have an entity that survives off one another," said Barnes, who contents officers do not testify against one another for the sake of protecting their own.
Testimony in this case, as with all Grand Jury cases, is sealed and therefore unavailable to the public for review.
While this case cannot be changed, Black Lives Matter Houston leader Ashton P. Woods said Wednesday evening that their group continues to build toward justice through a variety of support efforts.
"Within the next two weeks we'll be doing a voter registration drive, a general meeting to talk about what the next year will bring, we'll be doing HIV education," listed Woods, who helped organize Wednesday's protest to show solidarity with the Barnes family.