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Feds Probe Houston Police Shooting

October 21, 1998

HOUSTON (AP) _ Federal prosecutors and the FBI have launched an investigation into whether six Houston police officers violated the civil rights of a man killed during a botched drug raid.

Don Clark, special agent in charge of the Houston FBI division, said Tuesday that his office would look into the death of Pedro Oregon Navarro.

Oregon’s family, Hispanic activists and politicians in the nation’s fourth-largest city called for a federal probe after a state grand jury on Monday declined to indict the officers on murder charges. One officer was charged with misdemeanor trespassing.

``Let me stress that this is not an issue of race. This is an issue of justice and fairness,″ City Councilman Orlando Sanchez said Tuesday.

Oregon, 22, was shot to death July 12 after six police officers, acting on an informant’s tip, stormed his Houston apartment in search of drugs. He was shot a dozen times, including nine times in the back.

The officers said they began firing because they believed Oregon had fired at them. Police have since acknowledged that a bullet from one officer’s gun hit another’s bulletproof vest.

No drugs were found in the apartment and a gun the officers said Oregon had pointed at them was never fired. The officers remain suspended with pay until an internal investigation is over.

On Tuesday, Police Chief Clarence Bradford offered renewed condolences to the Oregon family and denied race played a factor in the shooting.

``My heart goes out to the family. It was a tragic situation,″ Bradford said. ``Police officers must, in some instances, discharge their firearms in the line of duty. It happens to people regardless of race, color and creed.″

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