Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
A man who attacked a Houston police car repeatedly with a pipe and then turned aggressively on officers was shot and killed Saturday night in south Houston, police said.
One officer was taken to Memorial Hermann Hospital with minor wounds. The incident happened about 8:00 at 6627 Foster in south Houston, after a woman called in a report that her mentally challenged son was threatening her with a knife.
Police said the man was 39, but would not release his name. A longtime family friend interviewed at the scene said the man’s name was Steven Guillory, though he was unsure of the correct spelling.
When two officers responding to the call arrived at the scene, police said, the man approached aggressively holding a large pipe with a piece of concrete on its end. He refused their orders to stop, and an officer discharged his Taser at him. It either missed or had no effect, police said, and the man began smashing windows in the police car.
Three more officers arrived while the man continued attacking the car. When he began making an aggressive move toward the officers, police said, at least one officer shot at him. He died at the scene.
Houston man killed after ‘pummeling’ police car
Mother, activist say man’s mental illness known; HPD says he was brandishing a pipe
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
The mother of a pipe-wielding man killed by Houston police said she pleaded with officers not to fire at her son because he had a history of mental health problems.
“I said, ‘My son is schizophrenic, don’t shoot him. He’s bipolar,’ ” said a grieving Joyce Guillory on Sunday, on the front lawn of her home in the 6600 block of Foster near Yellowstone. “They didn’t listen to me. They shot him anyway.”
Houston police have not discussed in detail the incident Saturday night that led to the death of Steven Guillory, 39.
In a statement released Sunday evening, Houston Police Department officials said the incident “did not offer an opportunity” for sending members of the police departments’ Crisis Intervention Team to the scene. The statement also said the shooting serves to “highlight the increasing need for more mental health professionals and earlier intervention prior to police involvement.”
Earlier this month Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt told the Houston Chronicle editorial board the department’s dealings with the mentally ill were an issue of concern and that all cadet classes are now required to complete 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Team training.
Houston police said Guillory was shot after he refused orders to drop a metal pipe he was carrying. Police said Guillory charged at officers while holding the pipe “in a menacing manner.”
On Sunday, a small, makeshift memorial marked the spot where Guillory fell to the ground, dead from at least one gunshot wound.
Police may have known him
Guillory was well-known to police as someone with serious mental health issues, said community activist Quanell X.
“This was the address of a known paranoid schizophrenic who they have dealt with in the past (and) who they have ‘talked down’ in the past,” Quanell said.
An HPD spokesman on Sunday said he wasn’t aware if officers had dealt with Guillory before, but said that would be part of the investigation into the shooting.
Quanell wanted to know why officers trained in crisis intervention were not sent.
“They knew what they were dealing with,” he said.
Quanell said at least 20 minutes elapsed before the backup officers arrived at the scene.
“When they pulled up and jumped out of their cars, they didn’t negotiate — they didn’t try to talk the young man down,” Quanell said. “There were multiple officers out here. They could have immediately requested a (Crisis Intervention) team.”
Joyce Guillory said she called police after her son struck her during an argument at the home. When officers arrived, they saw him standing in the front yard, brandishing a large pipe.
He appeared agitated, police said, and began moving toward them with the pipe in his hands. Officer T.K. Richardson tried to use his Taser to subdue Guillory but was unsuccessful, police said.
The officers backed away and called for assistance as Guillory began striking an HPD patrol car, smashing out most of the windows and lights.
Local pastor Louis Jolivette lives nearby and saw portions of the violent confrontation between Guillory and the police. The first responding officers remained 15 or 20 feet away from Guillory as he attacked the car, Jolivette said.
“When the second group of policemen came around, it seems that’s when things really got out of hand,” said Jolivette. “We heard some shooting and I saw (Guillory) fall down in the street.”
Ordered him to drop pipe
The pipe Guillory was using during the melee broke in half as the backup officers reached the scene. He threw one of the broken sections at them, then began approaching officers T.D. Jackson and R.B. Wieners.
Police said the officers ordered Guillory to drop the pipe, then fired at him. Richardson was struck by one of the officers’ rounds. He was treated at an area hospital, police said.
Guillory’s mother said she was able to calm her son when he became agitated in the past.
“I could have talked him back in the yard (but) they wouldn’t let me get nowhere near him,” she said.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office and detectives with HPD’s homicide and internal affairs divisions are investigating the shooting.
Experts say call police in crises with mentally ill
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Despite the recent fatal shooting of a pipe-wielding man by Houston police, experts encourage the public to keep calling law enforcement when a mentally ill person becomes violent.
Experts stressed that loved ones should ask for a Crisis Intervention Team and make clear when an incident involves a mentally ill person.
“If the situation is really volatile and the family has to do something right there to protect themselves, then by all means they should call 911,” said Betsy Schwartz, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Greater Houston.
Steven Guillory’s family is angry with police because, they said, his mother warned dispatchers that the man had a history of mental illness when she reported his violent behavior.
Houston police said officers on Saturday night shot and killed Guillory, 39, because he charged at them while holding a pipe in the 6600 block of Foster in southeast Houston. It was at least the second similar shooting death this year in the area.
HPD Capt. Bruce Williams said about 500 officers are trained by the Crisis Intervention Team to respond to mentally ill suspects, but the Police Department does not actually have a CIT unit that responds to incidents. HPD would ideally like to send a CIT-trained officer for all mentally ill suspects, but it does not have the manpower, he said.
Earlier this month, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt reprimanded a captain for failing to use SWAT or hostage-negotiating teams in the January shooting death of Omar Esparza, a mentally ill man whose family called police.
HPD said Sunday the Guillory incident “did not offer an opportunity” for a Crisis Intervention Team.
Guillory’s family said that police had plenty of time to call for a crisis mediator because the first two officers to arrive to the scene were there for 20 minutes before backup officers arrived, said activist Quanell X.
“That’s news to me,” Williams said.
Police said one officer shot Guillory with a Taser that failed to subdue the man. After that, Guillory pummeled a police car with the pipe while the officers called for backup.
Officers Tracy D. Jackson, a seven-year HPD veteran, and Robert B. Wieners, a first-year HPD officer, then shot and killed Guillory.
Williams said HPD had been called to the home three times in two years, but he said police don’t know which homes have residents with mental illness.
Families in emergency situations can call the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County at 713-970-7000 to request a Mobile Crisis Outreach Team.
FROM THE CITY OF HOUSTON, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT NEWS RELEASES:
Note: links to photos below are broken.
Update on Statement from HPD on Incident at 6600 Foster Street
July 22, 2007 – The Houston Police Department will commit all necessary resources to fully investigate the fatal shooting of Steven Guillory at 6600 Foster Street on Saturday (July 21).
This is a tragic event for the family, community and the Houston Police Department. The Houston Police Department has a great deal of sympathy for the Guillory family in their time of grief.
While many of our officers are members of the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and received the required training, the events of last night highlight the increasing need for more mental health professionals and earlier intervention prior to police involvement.
The loss of life is always regrettable, however at this time, the circumstances presented on Saturday (July 21) at 6627 Foster Street did not offer an opportunity for CIT intervention. Responding officers exhibited incredible restraint, by initially retreating from Guillory’s deadly threat. Despite the repeated attack by Guillory on the officers, they managed to deploy the less-than-lethal Conductive Energy Device (Taser) without effect. During this deadly confrontation, Guillory continued to pursue officers with a deadly weapon, a large metal pipe. Guillory destroyed a police vehicle with the pipe, which depicts his overly aggressive behavior. Photos of the destroyed police vehicle are attached:
The Houston Police Department places the highest value on the preservation of life. We place no less value on the lives of officers who have to respond to these tragic events, as demonstrated by the injury received by Officer Richardson during this incident.
We ask the community to allow the review process to proceed fairly and objectively. This review process includes the HPD Homicide and Internal Affairs Divisions and the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.