Statements from Police Chief Hurtt on Investigations
January 10, 2007 -- The Houston
Police Department has committed all resources at our disposal
to fully investigate two separate fatal shootings of citizens,
one at 5018 Curtin on Sunday (Jan. 7) and the other at 4600 Knoxville
on Monday (Jan. 8).
The loss of human life is always regrettable,
regardless of the circumstances.
I want to assure the community we will conduct
thorough investigations in both cases and leave no stones unturned.
Both incidents will be examined and I, along with my command staff,
will determine what steps, if any, to help prepare for similar
events using the minimal amount of force necessary to accomplish
Each time an officer or officers respond to a
call, circumstances dictate what decisions officers and supervisors
make to bring the incident to a peaceful conclusion. We review
our tactics and decisions in an effort to continually improve
our response. A preliminary review of Sunday's incident at 5018
Curtin indicates that officers entered the residence to help bring
Mr. Esparza into custody and eventually to a facility for treatment.
Several options were considered to bring Mr. Esparza safely into
custody. A Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officer was called to
the scene and did in fact communicate with Mr. Esparza in an attempt
to talk him out of the house. An on-scene supervisor was in contact
with our SWAT commander to discuss the facts of what officers
were dealing with at the time. The SWAT commander advised a supervisor
at the scene on a plan of action for entering the residence
utilizing officers' intermediate weapons (bean bag rounds, Tasers,
etc) to safely resolve the situation.
In reviewing this incident, future decisions
in similar calls will likely involve us using our SWAT and/or
Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT) more frequently, in addition to
utilizing our CIT officers. We are committed to our CIT program
and have more than 600 police officers who've received specialized
training above and beyond any police agency in this country in
deescalating confrontations with the mentally ill. We were told
the Esparza family had made several unsuccessful attempts to get
Mr. Esparza adequate mental health care. To that end, we support
efforts to ensure that adequate funding is made available to area
mental health agencies.
We welcome the Harris County District Attorney's
independent investigations into the two shooting incidents. Regardless
of the outcomes, citizens should know we will be transparent in
our findings and make any necessary corrective actions including
revisions in tactics and training deemed necessary and appropriate
to end similar situations peacefully.
information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at