Location: Texas

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Judge gives officer 60 days for shooting boy

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Despite a jury's recommendation of probation, a judge today sentenced former Houston police officer Arthur Carbonneau to 60 days in jail for fatally shooting an unarmed 14-year-old boy during a scuffle.

This boy was not involved in the incident to which the police were called and attempted to leave the area, not wishing to be involved in something that was none of his business. So the officer assaulted him and then killed him. The prosecutor charged the officer with murder.

Having grown up in Houston, I can assure you that if the boy had killed the officer the penalty would have been life in prison at the least.

The judge declined a request from Assistant District Attorney Don Smyth that Carbonneau also be required to write an open letter of apology to the residents of Harris County.

"They think their police officers are gun-toting, trigger-happy fools," Smyth said afterward. "He's put everybody in fear and he owes everybody an apology. It's all his fault."

I doubt a letter of apology will do much to dispel the fears of the community. But HPD doesn't get it.

Lt. Robert Manzo, an HPD spokesman, said he doubts the trial's outcome will hurt police relations with the Hispanic community.

"We've built too many bridges over the years," he said. "The vast majority of Houston's population, including the Hispanic population, knows the great majority of our officers are good men and women."

Marticiuc said officers will continue to have a good relationship with the Hispanic community, although tensions will always exist between the department and certain groups with "political motivations."

"That's the way it always is, and we try to work with them," he said. "Policing is a difficult job, and sometimes bad things happen in the line of duty."

I feel so much better now knowing that the "great majority" are good.


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