Last week an armed robber walked into a Houston taqueria and waved a gun into the faces of the eating establishment’s customers. He demanded their money and other items. A good guy with a gun shot the robber before he could leave with the stolen property. The robber was shot multiple times and died on the scene. The good guy returned the money and other items to the customers and left. As I wrote last weekend, the police wanted to speak with him to follow up on what happened that night.
The man’s attorney told police that his client was ready to talk to them and on Monday he did that. He was questioned by homicide detectives. The 46-year-old man, who wishes to remain anonymous, was not arrested or charged. His name has not been released.
HPD said the case will be referred to a grand jury to determine if charges are warranted.
UPDATE: The shooter, 46, was questioned by homicide detectives today.
After consultation w/ @HarrisCountyDAO, the incident will be referred to a grand jury. Since the male is not arrested or charged, his name is not being released at this time.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) January 9, 2023
The robbery and the man’s response are all on the taqueria’s indoor security camera video. The robber was later identified by HPD investigators as Eric Eugene Washington, age 30. It wasn’t Washington’s first armed robbery.
In 2013, he and others were charged with capital murder after a man was killed during an armed robbery, according to prosecutors. The charge was later changed to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and Washington was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
It’s unclear exactly when he was released, but the most recent time he was arrested was Dec. 16 when authorities said he pushed his girlfriend to the ground and scratched her. Washington was charged with misdemeanor family violence and was released on a personal recognizance bond.
Under Texas law, it looks like the man is in the clear, legally speaking. It falls under self-defense and defense of those around him. No one could tell that the gun was a fake one. And, legally speaking, whether or not it was a fake gun doesn’t matter.
“One of the reasons that law enforcement is seeking out this individual is to find out whether he was in fear for his life or the lives of the people around him because that’s absolutely essential to a self-defense claim under the law,” Roe said. “If you’re justified in shooting the first bullet, you’re justified in continuing to shoot until the deadly threat is no longer there.”
Nathan Beedle works with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He said Texas law outlines specific instances pertaining to robbery by threat, or aggravated robbery, where deadly force is presumed justified.
“I can point you exactly where it is in the law: 9.31 and 9.32 of the penal code,” Beedle said. “Whether someone uses deadly force in the situation, that is presumed to be correct under Texas law.”
Roe said it didn’t matter if the gun used in the robbery was fake because the threat was real.
“Everybody in that restaurant clearly believed it was a real gun,” she said.
Former prosecutor for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office Joanne Musick said she sees it as self-defense. However, she said she is not surprised the case is going to a grand jury.
“That means that it’s too close to call. That it is a self-defense claim, it is defense of third parties. That the DA is not going to just take it over a phone call or just a simple review of the evidence and file a charge. They’re going to take it before a grand jury — that’s 12 citizens that sit and look at the evidence and they look at both sides. They analyze if that self-defense was justified,” Musick said.
If you’re looking for excuses to be angry at the good guy, you might air a grievance that the shooter was a middle-aged white man and the robber was a youngish black man. In other cities that may have been a big part of the story but Houston is a little different than most Democrat-led blue cities. People aren’t so quick to react to those circumstances, protesting about racism. Especially in a case like this where there is clear, video proof of the actions taken that night.
The D.A. is a former Republican but is now a Democrat. She is a George Soros-backed D.A. who assumed office in 2017 and her current term is over in December 2024.
On Wednesday, the good guy released a statement. He said that he wants to remain anonymous and the shooting will “burden him for the rest of his life.” You can see in the security video that he is upset when he discovers the gun was a fake plastic one. He threw it across the room, breaking it against the wall.
“This event has been very traumatic, taking a human life is something he does not take lightly and will burden him for the rest of his life,” the statement, released by Juan L. Guerra Jr., said.
Let’s hope the guy gets a good outcome from the grand jury and is no-billed. The guy is a hero, whether he sees himself as that or not.