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6 Houston Cops Fired for Shooting

November 3, 1998

HOUSTON (AP) _ The six police officers were in trouble even before they raided Pedro Oregon Navarro’s apartment, looking for drugs.

According to their chief, they had no warrant and had violated department policy by using an ``unregistered‴ informant to get information about Oregon _ an informant they had pulled over for public intoxication.

And then, once inside, they shot Oregon to death. He was shot 12 times, nine times in the back. Thirty-three rounds were fired.

Police Chief Clarence Bradford dismissed all six officers Monday.

``I have not seen, in my opinion, a case as egregious as this case,″ Bradford said. ``My heart goes out to the family. My plea to the family is to keep your faith. Most officers in Houston do a good job.″

The officers said they began shooting because they thought Oregon, who had a gun, had fired at them. In truth, he never got off a shot: What the police heard was one officer shooting another wearing a bullet-proof vest.

The six also told investigators they planned to seek consent for a search, but internal affairs officials determined the officers intended all along to burst in. There were no drugs found inside.

The July 12 shooting provoked an outcry in the nation’s fourth-largest city as well as from the Mexican government. Oregon, a father of two, was a native of Mexico who had lived in the United States for about eight years.

Bradford fired the officers after an internal disciplinary committee and a civilian review panel both recommended the firings. The officers declined to meet with Bradford prior to his decision.

After a grand jury last month refused to indict the officers on murder charges, federal prosecutors and the FBI began their own investigation to see if Oregon’s civil rights were violated.

Oregon’s family has threatened to sue the city, the police department and the officers.

``I have said, since the beginning, the grand jury’s decision was just one step to be taken in this case,″ Mayor Lee P. Brown said. ``The internal affairs investigation is yet another step and I support its findings.″