Houston Police Officer Involved in ‘Melee’ with Concertgoers

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An HPD Officer responded to a noise complaint Friday at local music venue, Walter’s. Why there was a noise complaint against a concert venue I don’t know, but after the Officer arrived things just went wrong. No matter how you look at it, someone did something they weren’t supposed to do and things got out of hand.

You can read various accounts of the story in different places, but here’s the long story short:

The Two Gallants were playing a show at Walter’s when the Officer arrives and asks the sound guy to turn it down. Officer says they turn it back up as he’s walking out. The Officer heads to the stage and tells the band to leave. Forceful words are exchanged, Officer grabs the guitar and says Stephens (Lead Singer) shoves him. Stephens denies doing that. Either way, the Officer decides that Stephens needs to be dealt with and takes him down by the neck. Everyone flips out and is trying to cool the situation down and/or screaming. The officer then chases a guy with a camera around the club and ends up tasering Stephens, a college student and a 14 year old boy in “self defense” and arrests 6 people. You can see at least part of that whole thing for yourself after the cut.

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Regulars and ex-employees claim that Officer Rodriguez came around regularly with “a chip on his shoulder.” Nonetheless, local media outlets are selling the story that the officer was attacked by dozens of people and bravely fought off a drunken mob. Tasering people repeatedly is probably an appropriate response to that kind of violence, but its pretty easy to see for yourself that that’s not what really happened.

No matter how you look at it, things could have been dealt with better. I think that the Officer made a poor judgment call and that some levelheadedness might have been a good thing. Oh yeah, and he probably shouldn’t just taser people. After all, this was just a noise complaint.

I should remind readers that the Officer acted alone and this shouldn’t be seen as the action of Houston Police Officers in general. Nevermind that HPD’s Sgt. McDuell. says that the “officer’s approach was commendable.”

Anyway, read more to see the videos of the incident. I’ve heard that the officers were destroying evidence confiscating cameras, so there’s probably more pictures and video out there we can’t see.

My favorite part: the girl who yells “We need backup!” in response to the officer calling for backup.

Oh yeah, and there’s more video:

One more. Note the cool taser noises the entire video.

24 Comments so far

  1. Chris Doelle (unregistered) on October 16th, 2006 @ 4:54 pm

    WOW!! Now THAT is journalism! I think it is so cool that citizens are “armed” with digital video and still cameras these days.


  2. sarah (unregistered) on October 16th, 2006 @ 10:31 pm

    Wow! That is really, really terrifying & disturbing. I’ve been there (and similar places) many, many times and would absolutely hate to witness something like that… Sometimes police scare me.

    Brilliant coverage though! And I agree that it’s really cool that regular citizens can document such events these days, instead of letting the pass unnoticed.


  3. katya (unregistered) on October 16th, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

    I third that – vive le citizen journalism. That is just un-freaking-believable. I hope these videos help things get sorted out beyond a ‘he said, she said’ b/c it looks like things got insanely aggressive way too quickly with that cop.

    The sound of that taser is just eerie.


  4. Singe (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 1:35 am

    This style of reporting is the wave of the future. Great stuff. We don’t need cops like that on the street and finally the citizens have a weapon with which they can fight back against such irresponsible behavior on the part of cops, people who should be setting the highest standards of responsibility.

    It seems the third video has been removed from the site it was on. Does anybody have it posted somewhere else we could see?


  5. Guy Fawkes (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 3:52 am

    As long as anyone is placed in a position of power over others, abuses like this will continue to be the norm. The problem isn’t “one bad cop,” or even the police system in general – this is a result of hierarchy itself. Such violence is inherent to any hierarchical system, whether it’s the police, racism, government, an abusive husband, or the bosses at our workplaces. As long as such positions of authority continue to exist, they will continue to be exploited, and real democracy and equality will remain no more than a mythology that these authorities assure us is true.

    It’s time that we stop tolerating the violence of a system that relies on the submission of a vast majority. It’s time that we start building power WITH each other, not OVER each other. It’s time to create communities that are self-sufficient and directly democratic. It’s time for a revolution – not fought with the same violent tools of warfare that the state uses against us, but fought with ideas and a new way of life that can grow to replace this experimental stepping stone that we call our modern society.


  6. Chris Gilmour (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 3:58 am

    Yeah Guy Fawkes, intolerance is the way to go!!!


  7. hello (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 4:25 am

    it is absurd to say that someone should tolerate violence. this officer should not be in a position of power.


  8. Chris (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 5:05 am

    Outrages, how can such a powerhappy wannabe Cowboy become a police officer? Well let’s see your president’s one, too. Sort yourselfes out, otherwise
    violence and greed is just going to take over your country.


  9. webprofessor (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 7:19 am

    The video didn’t illustrate anything.. all I say was a bunch of people crowding a cop when he ordered them to disperse.


  10. Goon (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 8:41 am

    Officer Rodriguez looks and acts like a gorilla trying to exercise his physical presence sheerly because he can. What a screwed up country we have.

    Guess the HPD (and other police forces) better start pulling their heads out and get with the program since Big Brother also works against them as well.


  11. Anon (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 8:44 am

    The thing to remember here is, cops lie about every incident. When this gets to trial, here’s how it’s going to go:

    –anyone who read about the incident in the newspaper or this blog will be disqualified from the jury, so they won’t have any independent information about the event
    –Rodriguez is going to swear up and down that the band and patrons jumped him for no reason at all
    –the 12 random citizens are going to believe the police officer, because police officers don’t lie
    –the band and arrested patrons are going to be convicted
    –nothing will happen to Rodriguez
    –the next time he’s in the same situation, he’ll lie again, because it worked last time

    When you’re on a jury someday, remember this sequence. You won’t know the details of the event – because you’d be kicked off the jury if you did – but remember that police officers routinely lie.


  12. Acerak (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 8:44 am

    What an absolute dumbass cop with an attitude. What else does he expect to have happen when he walks in ALONE and deliberately causes chaos THEN calls for backup? Must be the war mentality…


  13. Dub Organizer (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    Don’t like what is going on?

    Contact the HPD:
    http://www.houstontx.gov/police/contact.htm

    Or write:
    Houston Police Department
    1200 Travis Street
    Houston TX 77002

    Also, people at the event need to file a complaint with the Central Intake Office. They claim the worst and most serious thing they get pissed about is “excessive force”.


  14. EZ (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 12:14 pm

    We know the guy in the first video with the glasses. That’s Two Gallants’ tour manager, Moses.

    GET THIS: He was tazered FIVE TIMES by that cop. Once straight into his bellybutton. That was the fifth time. He said that it was the most excrusiating pain ever… that the volts shot right through him.

    That cop needs to be booted off the force. Excessive much!?!?


  15. mike (unregistered) on October 17th, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

    Don’t be surprised at HPD; they’re corrupt and I’ve known that shit for years. This will get swept under the rug, spin doctors are already at work. Get out of that Sorry-ass town!


  16. Anarchy Incarnate (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 12:19 am

    Yeah, let’s watch a few seconds of video after things get out of hand and forget the context leading up to the event (ala: Rodney king). Sadly enough, it looks like Moses was stupid enough to touch the cop repeatedly after failing to back off as ordered. That hooks him up for assault charges just as the others that failed to disperse could be held accountable for a myriad of charges including a criminal combination.

    If you want to protest the acts of your local police, disagree with their procedures, or wnat “justice”, at least familiarize yourselves with how to do it right (I’m not going to spam you here but the ACLU has several free booklets and you can find others online easily enough).

    For those who think the videos proved much of anything, your utter cluelessness is exactly the type of atmosphere that empowers police brutality. What a sad example the kids today present us with (we fought for real causes in my day…).


  17. Dulcinea (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 8:11 am

    Um…so, being able to gather in a legal business during legal business hours for a legal purpose in one’s own city isn’t “a real cause,” Mr. Anarchy? I seeeeee.


  18. Laurence Simon (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 9:41 am

    Demanding tapes and recording devices?

    If I recall correctly from my days at a TV station, the proper procedure for the police to request taped material was for a subpoena to arrive, the tapes in question would be duplicated, and then sent out to the requesting authority.

    Didn’t realize the procedures were different for private citizens, face-to-face with an officer armed with a taser and firearm and implying the use of those two items should they refuse his demands.


  19. Luke Gilman (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 10:44 am

    Pitchfork Media has an in-depth interview with the Two Gallants (the band involved) that offers some more details on the events leading up to the videos.


  20. Walt (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

    It’s going to sound like it but I’m not defending the cop. He obviously screwed up and handled the result badly. But I just read the interview with the Two Gallants and you have to lay some of the blame on them. First when a cop tells you to stop doing something, stop first then ask why. Especially if what you’re doing causes you to have to yell your question. Second, if a cop throws you on the ground don’t try to get up, it only makes a bad situation worse. It doesn’t matter if the cop is wrong, don’t escalate the situation. You can sort out the right and the wrong after things have calmed down. They had a whole room full of witnesses to back them up.


  21. Anarchy Incarnate (unregistered) on October 18th, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    “Um…so, being able to gather in a legal business during legal business hours for a legal purpose in one’s own city isn’t “a real cause,” Mr. Anarchy? I seeeeee.
    Posted by: Dulcinea at October 18, 2006 08:11 AM

    Sorry Dulcinea but accounts are already coming in by those who were there saying that the cops came multiple times for a legal reason; loud noise. That being an illegal act supported by the business in question, opened up the door to the cop coming into the public place and taking action. There are enough true injustices in this world that devoting more than a passing glance at this one is a waste of breath.

    It’s not about the money or music scene as the Chronicle tried to make it either. The people that live in the vicinity of the club have just as much right to peace and quiet as anyone else in this city, hence the near unanimous passage of the city’s noise ordinance that prohibited the illegal acts. It’s not, as some have tried to make it, about who came first and as someone that has suffered far too many aural assaults in the past, I find the comments in that regard to be dismissive of those that live in the neighborhoods.

    Should the cop have tried diplomacy first? Of course he should have and he may well have done so the first three times he went to the club that night. Should he have waited for a dozen of his associates to join him in raiding the club to shut it down? Well, from the point of view of someone that’s been eyewitness to such an event in another, supposedly more music friendly city, I think it would have led to a lot more trouble; including over reactive concert goers escalating things to where many of them would have been hurt far worse than a zap by some electronic control device.

    The local cops will investigate this to the infinite degree I’m sure and whatever happens to the cop, I can’t help but wonder if part of their investigation includes someone using a fine tooth comb to check out the bar as well. Fuss about the yuppies living around the bar all we want, their right to enjoy their homes is protected by law and as pointed out before, assaulting a cop doesn’t usually end up so peacefully. That’s why I advocate those who were there contact the right parties to figure outthe best approach. The law of the matter, based on the lousy videos shown, backs the cop so wasting time on knee jerk reactions will only end badly for those involved. :(


  22. Mark (unregistered) on October 19th, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

    This kind of crimminal behavior on the part of HPD give all cops a bad name! For shame!!!

    METRO cops are worse.

    “Comical Lunacy, METRO cops, Lightrail and 12 Hours in a City Jail”

    http://hellomarkrodriguez.com/emptystyle/blog/99/


  23. Mark (unregistered) on October 19th, 2006 @ 12:22 pm

    That’s criminal!


  24. M. O'brien (unregistered) on October 21st, 2006 @ 12:15 am

    To think that the HPD is going to fully investigate this is being completely naive. They’ve already won, and will surely sweep this under the rug. With the exception of Bloggers the press completely took the police’s side. Hell, McDuell commended the officer. COMMENDED the son of a bitch! Regardless of what happened leading up to the start of the video, that was nowhere near the right way to approach the situation and the cop should be dealt some sort of punishment, opposed to getting the journalistic blow job the Houston press presented to him. However, nothing will ever come of this.



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