2 years ago

NOV 2020 Blues Vol 36 No. 11

  • Text
  • Blues
  • Preston
  • Investigator
  • Enforcement
  • Waller
  • Manzano
  • Multiple
  • October
  • Arson
  • Responders
NOV 2020 Blues Vol 36 No. 11


HOUSTON CHRON. EDITORIAL Deaths of Houston peace officers deserve more than political sound bites Senseless. That’s the only way to describe the violence that took the lives of two dedicated Houston peace officers in recent weeks, one in the middle of his career and one only weeks from retirement. Lemuel “DJ” Bruce, a 44-yearold arson investigator with the Houston Fire Department, was memorialized Thursday for his servant’s heart and unique sense of humor after he was gunned down nearly a week earlier while investigating a string of fires in northwest Houston. Police Sgt. Harold Preston, 65, an unflappable veteran who became a mentor to many in his 41 years with the Houston Police Department, was shot and killed Tuesday morning, authorities said, by the estranged husband of a woman he was trying to protect. We honor their service and their memories. We pray for their families. We remember, even amid ongoing debates over much-needed changes to policing, how complex, how challenging, how inherently dangerous are the tasks we ask law enforcement to perform each day. And how necessary. Yet, such tragedies can never be a given. We must always ask why they happened. And what, if anything, we can do to keep them from happening again. The details surrounding Bruce’s death are still emerging. The circumstances of Preston’s killing are clearer, if still incomprehensible. He and fellow HPD officer Courtney Waller were at a southwest Houston apartment complex on Tuesday morning as peace-keepers, protecting a woman who said she was being threatened by her estranged husband, Elmer Manzano. The officers were hoping to keep the situation calm as they escorted the woman to gather her belongings from the apartment. Preston was well aware of the dangers that come with domestic disturbance calls. In this case, violence erupted within seconds. The officers were barely inside the door when the couple’s 14-year-old son shouted that his father had a gun and the shooting started, authorities said. Preston was hit in the head while Waller and the teen were struck in the arm. Manzano was also wounded and eventually taken into custody when more police arrived on the scene. Preston was pronounced dead at Memorial Hermann Hospital. “I pray that he rests in heaven, because if it were not for him, I know I would have been killed,” the estranged wife told KHOU- TV. “He saved my life. He is a hero. He died protecting me and my family.” The elements of this tragedy could easily be pulled apart for campaign sound bites on domestic violence, criminal justice reform, gun control, Houston’s rise in violent crime, illegal immigration and more. Indeed, some couldn’t help but seize the moment. The public was barely aware of the details of the shooting when Mary Nan Huffman, the Republican candidate for district attorney and currently a lawyer for the Houston Police Officers’ Union, sought to blame Democratic incumbent DA Kim Ogg for Preston’s death, inferring that her office had refused to accept charges against Manzano after earlier complaints about a domestic dispute. “His death was 100% preventable,” Huffman wrote in a news release. “Had charges been accepted, Mr. Manzano might be back on the street, but his gun and ammunition would have been seized and held as evidence. No gun would have meant no dead officer.” Reporting by the Houston Chronicle found a more complicated story. Waller had investigated a complaint on Sunday that Manzano had threatened her with a gun and to have her deported. After consulting with a prosecutor, Waller determined that “no crime occurred,” according to records. Police were called again on Monday, the details of which were not immediately available. Waller called prosecutors again just before the Tuesday shooting to talk about what had happened the day before and was told a terrorist threat charge 10 The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE The BLUES POLICE MAGAZINE 11

The BLUES - Digital Issues 2020-2023

Blues Preston Investigator Enforcement Waller Manzano Multiple October Arson Responders


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