Britt Coleman, 281/331-1506, temporary e-mail
Please send Comments/Corrections directly to:
Editor P.O. Box 981101 Houston Texas 77098
Quotation marks " before and after indicate "Allegedly".
  • Account of the Incident
  • History of the Coalition
  • Victims of Police Abuse
  • Townhall Meeting: Opening Statement

    "At 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 1998, six members of the Houston Police Department Gang Task Force, after receiving a bogus drug tip from an unregistered informant, burst into PEDRO OREGON's apartment, without a warrant, and fatally shot him 12 times from behind."

    "The first shot entered the back of his head, the second in the back of his wrist, the third to the back of his shoulder, and the remaining 9 shots were to his back as he lay face down on the floor with his hands in front of him."

    "One of the cops, Officer Barrera, fired until his gun was empty, paused to reload, then resumed firing. He is responsible for 24 of the 33 shots fired that night. The police are now conducting a slander campaign against PEDRO and the OREGON family by claiming, without proof, that PEDRO was a "drug dealer" and "gang member." Not surprising, considering the way they think about all young blacks and latinos, this is a second assassination of PEDRO. First they killed him with guns, now they are trying to kill his character and turn the victim into a criminal. The fact is NO drugs were found in the apartment, nor on PEDRO, nor in his body. The cops also maintain that he shot at them, but new evidence indicates that the police never saw him with a weapon. This means they lied."

    "On August 24, the case was referred to a grand jury by District Attorney John B. Holmes with no charges recommended. D.A. Holmes has admitted that it is his policy never to recommend charges against cops. The means that you and I are held at different standards than the police. Instead of indicting these killer cops for murder, the grand jury cleared all of them except one, who received a sham misdemeanor criminal trespass charge. Only after a public outcry were the six officers fired by Chief of Police Bradford. They were fired because people like you had the guts to stand up and voice your outrage."

    "The internal police investigation even found that they had violated state and federal laws. Still no charges! This is the major demand of the JUSTICE FOR PEDRO OREGON COALITION (JPOC), that the cops be charged with murder now!"

    "Just last week, information from a deposition of one of the notorious six officers, David R. Perkins, has shed new light on PEDRO's murder. Police reports state that when the cops entered the apartment, PEDRO bolted from the living room, ran down the hallway and into his bedroom. But in Officer Perkins' deposition, he states that he never saw PEDRO run to the bedroom. He then goes on to say that he never saw PEDRO outside the bedroom at any time. So now they are caught in another lie: The truth is that the cops "kicked in the bedroom door, never identifying themselves as the police. After Officer Barrera accidentally shot one of his own men, the cops opened fire on PEDRO, an unarmed man, killing him. Officer Perkins even said that he never saw PEDRO with a weapon at any time!"

    We urge D.A. Holmes to take heed of this important new evidence and refer this matter to another grand jury with charges of murder.

    "The JPOC was formed in July of 1998 in protest of the atrocity of PEDRO's murder. Since its inception, we have organized and participated in over 15 rallies, marches, and picket lines. Hundreds of people attended the July 26, Sept. 20, and Oct. 25 marches in the Gulfton area where PEDRO lived, as well as the Oct. 22 downtown rally and march against police and migra brutality."

    "We have organized community meetings and speakouts at Burnett Bayland Park, at Robert E. Lee High School, and at University of Houston. On Nov. 12, with a picket line outside, members of the Coalition met with D.A. John B. Holmes to discuss referring the case to a new grand jury. He said he would not do this unless new evidence surfaced, which it now has. This was a victory in itself that D.A. Holmes felt obliged to meet with the JPOC."

    "The reason he met with us was because of continued public pressure. On Nov. 17, the OREGON family filed a $35 million federal civil lawsuit against the Houston Police Department. Anyone who thinks this is because the family is just interested in money is wrong. The civil suit is not about compensation, it is to punish the cops' bosses. The only way these people think is in terms of money, so the only way to punish them is financially."

    The truth is that the OREGON family as has been robbed of PEDRO and denied justice, and no amount of money can make up for PEDRO's lost life, or any other human life.

    "On Dec. 12, the Coalition held a fund-raiser dinner which brought in over $1,000 to help the OREGON family to obtain a gravestone for PEDRO. On this same day, we participated in the annual DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS FESTIVAL. Over the past 6 months, the JPOC has overcome violence-baiting campaigns, has collected hundreds of signatures on a petition demanding murder charges to be brought against the police, and has raised community awareness of police brutality."

    "We have protested every court date of the farce criminal trespass charge against Officer Willis, and will continue to do so. We invite you all to join us Monday morning, Jan. 25, 8:30 a.m., in front of the Harris County Criminal Courthouse at 301 San Jacinto, downtown, to protest Willis' latest court date. Most recently the JPOC marched in the DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. PARADE downtown in a show of solidarity with Dr. King's belief that 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' Just as the government used to spread its lies about Dr. Martin Luther King, they are still spreading lies about PEDRO OREGON."

    The same things that happened 20, 30, 40 years ago are still happening today. It is up to us to make a change.

    Although PEDRO OREGON's murder has sparked widespread community outrage, he is not the first to be murdered by police in Houston. Before him come:

    Jose Campos Torres, 23.

    On May 6, 1977, police beat him so badly that the city jail would not book him. In lieu of medical attention, he was taken to Buffalo Bayou, handcuffed, beaten some more, then thrown in the Bayou to drown.

    Travis Allen, 17

    On July 15, 1995, this unarmed teenager was shot twice in the back while a 200-lb. cop stood on him as he lay handcuffed and bleeding. No charges.

    Jaciel Gonzales, 15

    On June 6, 1997, the unarmed teenager, who had already been searched, was handcuffed in the back of a squad car and shot once in the temple. This was officially ruled a suicide. No charges.

    Ezequiel Hernandez, 18

    On May 20, 1997, the high school student and goat herder was stalked and killed by U.S. Marines on the U.S.-Mexico border. No charges.

    Juan Carlos Espinoza, 16

    On June 25, 1997, unarmed, he was shot in the head while hiding under his bed. His father had called the police to teach him a lesson about taking the family car wihtout permission. Instead, they killed him. No charges.

    Nor is PEDRO the latest victim of police brutality. Since his murder, the police have also killed:

    Robert Williams, 29

    On August 10, 1998, unarmed, he was shot six (6) times by a deptuy in Baytown. No charges.

    Derek Jason Kaesman, 24

    On Oct. 25, 1998, while the Coalition was marching for PEDRO OREGON, Derek was shot 14 times by seven cops who fired more than 50 rounds at him, after mistaking a can opener for a gun. No charges.

    This was not the first time Derek had been a victim of the police. Two years ago, they chased him down which resulted in a car wreck that left him so brain-damaged that his mother was the only person he could recognize. He had reason to be afraid of cops.

    And the most recent incident:

    Sheryl Sue Seymour, 40

    On Jan. 20, 1999, she was shot and killed [after calling 911 for help]. At this point it has not been taken to a grand jury.

    It is more than apparent that these facts represent a pattern of police brutality rather than isolated incidents. The fight for justice will not stop until this system of brutality is eradicated.

    The FBI has now launched an investigation of PEDRO's murder which we all hope will result in justice. However, the fact is that of the many cases of police brutality they investigate, only a small fraction ever receive indictments, and even fewer result in a conviction. In 1996, the FBI reviewed 10,129 civil rights cases, and only 0.2% were filed for prosecution. The prosecution rate for police abuse cases is less than 1% of those investigated. So even if a complaint makes it to the FBI, it is very unlikely to lead to a conviction. This is a classic scenario of 'the wolf guarding the fox that's guarding the hen house.'

    This could be no more apparent that in the case of TRAVIS ALLEN, the 17-year-old [Bellaire student] shot in the back while a 200-lb. cop stood on top of him. After a grand jury failed to indict the two officers, the FBI came in and shuffled papers around for 3 years, only to send a letter to TRAVIS ALLEN, the murder victim, thanking him for bringing the case to their attention, but stating that they found no evidence of wrongdoing! Not only did these cops get away with murder, but the shooter, Officer Leal, has since been promoted within his department. He now supervises everyone who investigated him. The Bellaire Police Dept. basically congratulated him for killing an unarmed teenager.

    The killing must stop! The fight for justice must involve the people of Houston, for we must succeed where our local and federal governments have failed to charge these trigger-happy cops with murder. This is a fight for justice, and it is also a fight for our own dignity.

    To add names or corrections to the above, please contact Editor Emily Nghiem at: or leave a voice mail message (24 hours) at 713/867-5998.

    Your help is needed to remember ALL victims and survivors of police violence, by asking the City of Houston to set up a memorial community center and civil rights museum in honor of local families victimized by government abuse. For the original Allen Parkway Community Campus Concepts, see APCC proposal. To support civilian review boards and a human rights commission, contact CORPUS JUSTICE at 281-405-8998 (Marilyn Head) or the HARRIS COUNTY COUNCIL OF ORGANIZATIONS at 281-629-6990 (Dewayne Lark). Thank you for your support and prayers to end police violence and government corruption!

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