A Harris County grand jury on Wednesday no-billed a Precinct 5 deputy who shot and killed a man while conducting a traffic stop in west Houston in April. Later in the day, a small group of Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated downtown.
The shooting happened after Harris County Precinct 5 Deputy Constable R. Felix stopped 24-year-old Ashtian Barnes as he was driving on Beltway 8 in west Houston on the afternoon of April 28.
Dashcam video of the encounter, posted by Black Lives Matter activists Wednesday afternoon, showed the deputy pulling Barnes over, approaching him, and warning him not to dig around. Moments later, he can be seen pulling open Barnes’ driver side door, stepping into the car, drawing his gun, and firing as the car travels forward several hundred feet.
Officials with the Houston Police Department – which investigated the shooting – said at the time that Felix had pulled Barnes over because the car had a large number of toll road violations.
Police said Felix had claimed the car smelled of marijuana and Barnes didn’t have a license or proof of insurance. During the traffic stop, Barnes repeatedly reached on the floor of the car, digging through papers as if he was reaching for something, said Kese Smith, an HPD spokesman. Felix called for backup, opened the car door and told Barnes to step outside his car. Barnes turned on the car, as Felix told him not to.
Then, Felix drew his weapon, police said. Barnes began to accelerate as the driver’s side door of the car was still open. The deputy thought he might get run over, and held on to the door as the car traveled about 120 feet. Officials said then that Felix had reached for the deputy’s gun. When Felix felt Barnes’ hand on his hand and gun, he fired his weapon twice. Backup hadn’t yet arrived.