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Cop Watch: Suicide by Cop Happens in Texas – or Does It?

Today, the Texas Rangers are investigating the deaths of two young men who were killed by a policeman’s bullets.

A 28-year-old and a 30-year-old both killed by police gunfire in the past two weeks

The Rangers are involved in determining what happened in the shooting death of 28 year old Tabaris Brown in Childress, Texas, on Saturday as well as the shooting death of 30 year old Jaime Almaguer in New Braunfels two weeks ago.

The Death of Tabaris Brown

According to media reports, Brown died in a restaurant parking lot on US 287, where he stopped his vehicle after a chase with police. Exiting the vehicle, Brown is said to have had a gun in his hands according to at least one eyewitness who is not a cop — and that Brown raised his gun toward the officers. Ballistics is testing whether or not Brown fired his weapon at the police before they opened fire on Brown.   

The Rangers’ spokesman has told the media that their investigation has revealed at least one friend and one family member that substantiate the fact that Brown did travel with a loaded gun in his car.  (In case you were wondering about a plant. Good question, right?)

The Death of Jaime Almaguer

Newspapers across the state are monitoring the story of Jaime Almaguer, who was shot and killed by police while he was standing in the southbound lane of IH35 as the highway travels through New Braunfels.  Almaguer died on the freeway early on the morning of November 11th, and traffic headed toward San Antonio and Mexico-way was blocked from the roadway crime scene for much of that Wednesday. 

Almaguer was being sought by police for questioning in the death of his alleged girlfriend, Jennifer Trader, whose body had been found in her San Antonio apartment with a single gunshot wound to the head.  Law enforcement purportedly was about to give up their manhunt for Almaguer, when he was spotted walking along the IH35 access road  in New Braunfels. 

According to media reports, Almaguer had not only told relatives in New Braunfels that he had killed somebody in San Antonio, but he was also in communication with law enforcement as their manhunt progressed, and Almaguer is said to have told New Braunfels police that he was armed and he wanted a shootout with the cops. 

Where these two incidents of Suicide by Cop? The Texas Rangers Will Find Out ….

It is sad but true that there are occasions where individuals have lost their trust in the criminal justice system of this country to such a degree that they cannot fathom facing arrest and teaming with a criminal defense attorney to fight against the charges.  (Defense lawyers CAN help, but clients have to call, take that first step.)

Instead, these tragic souls decide to take a stand against law enforcement in a doomed scenario, where they are knowingly outmanned and outgunned.  These situations have come to be known as “suicide by cop.”

It is also sad but true that there are also occasions where individuals are killed by police and the shootout is labeled a “suicide by cop” to cover up an error of law enforcement, with a gun left convincingly close to the victim’s body.  Many are suspicious of events where the police kill individuals – especially when their loved ones’ deaths are then investigated by the police department’s internal affairs division.    A question can be raised regarding the rising trend of Suicide by Cop — is it real? 

The Texas Rangers are an independent organization, with a steady reputation of working with federal agencies as need be (we’ve posted about these joint efforts many times) to find and stop corruption within the Texas criminal justice system.  Based upon media reports, they have a plethora of potential evidence in the New Braunfels shooting: e.g., videotapes taken during the manhunt, audiotapes of the conversations that the suspect had with police prior to the shooting. 

Whether or not Almaguer’s death was a suicide by cop should be easily determined (and from media reports, it does appear to fit into the Suicide by Cop pattern – especially the taped admissions by the decedent that he wanted to engage in a shootout). 

However, the Childress killing does not appear to be so easily investigated.  Curious by its absence are any video or audio of the altercation between the police and Brown in that restaurant parking lot.  Those police car dashboard cams?  The cameras weren’t pointed in the right direction, says Childress Police Chief Reece Bowen, so they didn’t capture the event on tape.  And the audio? It wasn’t working.  Bowen says his equipment is old, and just wasn’t working.  That they’re a “poverty level police department.” 

Which makes it a bigger job for the Texas Rangers, doesn’t it?  Wonder what the media will be reporting about the gun found with Brown, and the story that its spent shell casings (if any) at the scene have to tell ….


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