Category Archives: Media

Video of HPD Killing Nicolas Chavez Released

Four Houston PD cops were fired for the killing of Nicolas Chavez.

A well-prepared, yet, sickening video showing the various police bodycam vantage points of the Nicolas Chavez killing was released to the public  Thursday afternoon, with a play-by-play of the killing by the HPD Chief. The Chief and the cops union seem to have provided some points of defense for the fired cops, from a criminal case point of view.

It was not lost on me that the Chief (and therefore the City of Houston) took somewhat of a middle road in stating that at least two of the bullets shot into Chavez were “justified,” but that the final multi-cop volley of 21 shots were bothersome enough to fire the cops.

Of course, the cops union felt that all of the bullets were justified–even the last 21 shots. The Chief disagreed as the cops have been trained to use time as a means of deescalating a situation. I would think that allowing for more time in this situation would have effected a better outcome. The cops had already taken the time and used their training in attempting to do so.

I could go into what I think after watching the video, but I’ll leave that to the experts that I hope are utilized in explaining it to a grand jury. I just think that an already spent taser (left on the ground by one of the cops) that Chavez pulled toward himself using the wires that had already been shot into him would have done more damage to Chavez than to the cops based on what I’ve read about those contraptions. Therefore, 21 shots fired at will by four cops were not justified and such a violent reaction by the cops was not necessary.

The DA Kim Ogg has stated that the case will be presented to the grand jury once her people have reviewed the evidence. I hope it is presented well.

It is disappointing that it has taken over four months to get to this point. It would seem to me that the elaborate video presentation was more about defending the firing of the cops than about prosecuting a crime. The Chief has a knack for putting on a show when calling out crime and criminals to the cameras, but not in this case.

To watch the Chief’s presentation, click here.

 

 

We Need A Vote-at-Home Order from Abbott

Well, it’s nice that Greg Abbott has finally decided to order everyone to wear masks during this pandemic. That it took over 175,000 Texans to get infected and over 2,500 dying, as well as an idiotic and sped-up re0pening of businesses which caused an obvious uptick in cases to finally make a mask order happen shows a total disregard of life and health on the part of Abbott and Republicans.

Anyway, thanks?

It was Anthony Gutierrez at Common Cause who captured the reality of the mask order:

“Issuing the mandatory mask order and encouraging everyone to stay home is the right thing to do right now, considering the mess we’re in. But the right thing to do months ago to avoid this very easily foreseeable mess was to allow all Texans to vote by mail so that no one would now find themselves having to choose between voting and endangering their health.

Our Governor and Secretary of State have thus far failed when it comes to adapting our election systems in a pandemic, but it’s not too late to get it right for November.”

We’re currently in the Democratic Primary run-off here in Texas. And while many 65+ voters ordered their mail ballots, thousands of others are going into polling locations risking our health because we believe in the power of our votes. Thankfully, our own Harris County has instituted some measure of protection, but it is never safer than voting from home at this time.

Instead of opening up access to voting by mail for all as a real option, Greg Abbott and Republicans fought against it, putting even more people at risk who may have already been practicing stay-at-home measures on their own.

Anyway, let’s hope there is a vote-at-home order soon. Even Abbott agrees that “it is getting worse,” although, leaders like Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo had said it would get worse if leaders didn’t take COVID19 seriously.

Why So Surprised at Abbott’s Destruction of Texas?

The Chron, an avid endorser of Greg Abbott, wrote a critical op-ed about Abbott.

The Chron still supported Abbott after the multi-billion dollar shit show that has been the “border surge,” the billions cut from public education, and not allowing an expansion of Medicaid. So, who is “foolish?”

Well, now, Greg Abbott and republicans are failing Texas on mitigating the Coronavirus–big time! But we have enough beds for all the fools who go to bars and parties unmasked as Abbott re-opens the economy, y’hear? Maybe not.

Why are we so surprised? And why is he considered “failing,” now? We’ve known Republicans were out to get the poor, the infirm, immigrants, women, persons of color, the disabled, the LGBT, and many more for a long time.

Why the faux outrage toward him, now? Is it about YOU, now?

 

 

 

Jose Rivera Announces for HCDE At-Large Position 7

Local non-profit executive Jose Rivera has announced his candidacy for Harris County Dept of Education Trustee, At-Large 7.  The Democratic nominee must be chosen by the Democratic Party’s precinct chairs later this summer after the current nominee was appointed to another position on the board during the primary season.

Jose offers up years of experience in Democratic campaigns, as well as community advocacy experience through his work in local government and in the office of Congressman Gene Green. Also:

Throughout his career, Jose has found a passion working and for under represented communities. For 8 years, he worked for the nationally recognized non-profit BakerRipley. It was during his time at BakerRipley that Jose learned the importance of engaging communities and collaborating to create programs and initiatives that are reflective of the communities they aim to serve. Jose also helped create and develop intergenerational programs that engaged youth and seniors through mentoring and resiliency connections.

Jose Rivera currently serves as the Executive Director of the Aldine-Greenspoint YMCA and Outreach Initiatives where he oversees programming and resources for the Aldine- Greenspoint Service area along with Outreach programming which includes apartment outreach programs, and services throughout the Greater Houston service area.

Jose holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration from Texas Southern University and has participated as a fellow in the New Leaders Council. He and his wife Tanya Makany-Rivera are members of Unity Church of Christianity and live in Houston with their two boys Anthony and Dominic who attend area public schools.

There are two vacancies on the Democratic side of the November ballot that must be filled by a vote of the Democratic Party’s executive committee, AKA the precinct chairs. One we already know about it that of County Clerk, due to the resignation of Diane Trautman and a called special election to fill the vacancy in November. Each Party must pick their candidate through the precinct chairs.

But, there’s also the position of Trustee of the Harris County Department of Education Board, Position 7–an at-large position. In this case, the Democratic candidate who won the primary was appointed to fill a vacancy on the board, which has left Dems without a candidate for November. So, the precinct chairs will fill this vacancy with a Democrat to take on the Republican in November.

That said, contact your precinct chair and tell them to read up on and support Jose Rivera for HCDE-7. He will serve Harris County well. He has already earned the nod of State Reps. Christina Morales, Armando Walle, and Ana Hernandez, as well as current HCDE Trustee Richard Cantu, and former Congressman Gene Green.

We will be hearing about at least one person running for County Clerk later this week. Stay connected!

Democratic State Reps Call Out Acevedo on HPD Audit

Eight Houston-area Democratic State Representatives have called out Houston PD Chief Art Acevedo and HPD on the lack of transparency and accountability regarding a taxpayer-funded audit of the department after its botched raid on Harding Street.   (CLICK  TO  ENLARGE)

Thanks to these leaders for speaking up for accountability on this particular instance of cops-gone-wrong.

Of course, this isn’t the only instance for which the community needs information. The name Nicolas Chavez immediately comes to mind as months have passed without any results of investigation. The online video isn’t enough, Chief! Perhaps this audit on procedures and practices would give a little light as to what could lead officers to kill others in all other instances in which has occurred.

 

 

 

The Latest on Local Police Reform

The Harris County Commissioner’s Court approved a long list of items that could lead to reform of law enforcement at the county level.

At the very least, these reforms will create some semblance of transparency over law enforcement budgeting and statistics regarding racial disparities in the system itself, and create a mechanism to ensure the indigent are represented in criminal courts. Most importantly, it gets the ball rolling on an independent civilian oversight board with subpoena power.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez took to social media to tell us of his dislike of the #defund movement, stating that more money is needed. My own thinking is that a more transparent budget process would definitely allow us to look beyond the usually undisputed round numbers that go with funding law enforcement.

He added:

I’m putting in the work to review how my agency can do better. For some changes, we don’t need extra time to review, I’m moving forward now. Other changes may require more time, simply because they’re complex issues that require thoughtful deliberation. We prohibit the use of chokeholds, but we’re going to make it even more clear in policy. We will immediately implement a Duty to Report policy. We will increase audits of our BWC’s and taser use. And more is in the works. The time to act is now.

I hope the Sheriff understands that it takes these types of events, including the local unresolved murder-by-cop case in his own department of Joshua Johnson, to exact some action from our leaders. A lot more is needed. Above all, these things must be codified in countywide (and statewide and federal) fashion so that the next Sheriff doesn’t obliterate it all.

Either way, it’s good to see something that was decided by those whom we elected.

In other news…

After City Council failed to support a comprehensive list of police reforms submitted as budget amendments by CM Letitia Plummer, they approved an increase in funding for HPD. Instead, Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order on police practices.

The EO covers the police department’s response to resistance, de-escalation, use of deadly force, prohibited techniques, and no-knock warrants. For the first time, it codifies prohibited techniques, such as neck restraints or chokeholds, which cannot be used unless objectively necessary to prevent imminent serious bodily injury or death to the officer or others.

No word on reforms that lead to more transparency and accountability, such as release of bodycam film and investigations of the bad apples and the good apples who allow them to be bad, but, supposedly, there is a task force.

Obviously, we will all keep an eye on this and the coming push back from the naysayers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somerville Votes NO

The Somerville, TX City Council voted unanimously against the re-hiring of Chauna Sheffield (Thompson). The Mayor of Somerville has also requested the resignations of the police chief and the city administrator.

The developments were announced by the town’s Mayor Michael Bradford at a rally held outside of the meeting and broadcast on a Facebook Livestream by FIEL Houston.

The family of John Hernandez continues to seek justice in this murder case. While Terry Thompson is now serving 25 years at TDCJ for the choke-hold murder of John Hernandez at an East Harris County Dennys, Chauna Thompson, who is seen in a video helping her husband by holding Hernandez’s arm, was effectively declared not guilty by the Harris County DA Kim Ogg who blamed it on lack of evidence to convict.

Good work by the family of John Hernandez, our friends at FIEL Houston, and others who got the word out about this. A huge thanks to the Mayor and City Council and the people of Somerville, TX for standing up for justice. If you drive through Somerville or Burleson County, make sure you stop at one of their businesses.)

(SIDENOTE:  My Abuelita was born in Caldwell, TX which is also in Burleson County.)

The lucha sigue!

Fired HC Deputy Chauna Thompson Up For Cop Post in Somerville

6/10/2020 UPDATE:  Somerville Votes NO

You heard right.

Chauna (Sheffield) Thompson is being considered for a police officer post by the City of Somerville, TX.

Thompson is a former Harris County Sheriff’s Department deputy who, while off-duty, assisted her husband in the choke-hold murder of John Hernandez at a Denny’s in East Harris County in May, 2017.

Her husband, Terry, was convicted; however, DA Kim Ogg made the decision to drop the charges against Chauna Thompson because she didn’t think her office could prove Thompson intended to kill Hernandez and Thompson wasn’t in the area of the killing the entire time. The video shows Terry choking Hernandez and Chauna holding Hernandez down.

Effectively found not guilty by the DA, (Sheffield) Thompson is now free to work as a police officer, again. And, now, she is up for a post in the small town of Somerville, TX, located north of Brenham on TX36. Somerville must not let this happen.

The town is diverse, with 33% Hispanic and 32% African American population. Given the diversity, given Thompson’s record of participating in a murder, the City Council’s consideration of her application does not give off that feeling of trying to earn the trust of the community in these days of needed police reform. Her hiring would definitely not create that trust.

UPDATE:  A quick look at the City Council agenda attachments shows that Sheffield is being considered for re-employment, so, apparently, she has already been employed by Somerville in the recent past since her HCSO firing in 2017.

Justice for John Hernandez and others will be participating in a rally at Somerville’s City Council meeting tomorrow with the hope of convincing the City Council to vote down (Sheffield) Thompson’s application.

If you believe Somerville deserves better, attend the rally outside the city council meeting Tuesday (JUNE 9) at 5:30. The meeting is at the Somerville Senior Center on HWY 36 across from Mama’s Restaurant.

somerville

Stop It With The Hero Worship

Too many people are going through this need for heroes. Everyone is a hero nowadays. I’m fine with farm workers (who feed us) and medical personnel (who have been fighting the COVID19 battle), but when it comes to talking heads and media hounds, I draw the line.

I thought the most annoying example was the Great White Hype Hope syndrome that many liberals are going through during the pandemic. Fauci, Cuomo, and even Newsom. (And I like Newsom.) They are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and in a Trump climate, but it’s nothing special that requires sainthood. As much as I defend and compliment our Latina County Judge, the same goes for her. They are doing their jobs despite the policies of the Abbotts and Trumps.

Then, George Lloyd was murdered and it became Jacob Frey and Gov Walz in Minnesota. Then it became any cop or police chief who joined a march or gave a symbolic kneel. Tear-filled speeches and symbolic gestures seem to grab and calm people; unfortunately, it only allows for more inaction. Distract and divert.

They’ve all made some pretty awful decisions, though. As far as big city mayors and police chiefs go, they literally attacked peaceful protesters (and reporters) with plastic bullets, tear gas, and horses. They were quick to blame the outsider, but I haven’t seen any of the white supremacists who are getting blamed being shot, gassed, or trampled. And when the sister of cop-murdered Houstonian Joe Campos Torres also gets arrested here in Houston, well, one wonders if something else is going at HPD.

Locally, Art Acevedo and local elected officials who have been elected and re-elected have had plenty of opportunity to push for criminal justice and policing reforms. Acevedo throws out some good lines and good hugs on camera, but where are the changes? Certainly, the death and police violence continues locally despite one of his underlings mouthing off on TV that Lloyd’s murder was in Minnesota and not here, so why protest here? As if Houstonians had no other reason to protest.

At the county level, there have been attempts at criminal justice and bail reform thanks to Judge Hidalgo, Commissioners Ellis and Garcia, and Sheriff Gonzalez. Unfortunately, they are stopped by Republicans at all levels. But they still try.

This is a conversation that must lead to actual effort and actual change and it must be had at all levels. We can’t take the attitude that if the votes aren’t there, then we must wait. If one doesn’t even try to change public opinion from the pulpit in which the voters placed them, then why even have them there?

But people buy into the hero worship because someone gives out a good image. We all want to feel the warm and fuzzies during a scary time. But, there comes a time when someone seen as a leader needs to act. And policing reforms need to happen. They’ve needed to happen since the promises began after the 1992 Rodney King beating. They’ve needed to happen throughout the history of the United States.

One would figure than in a Democratic majority city, with a Democratic majority city council that Houston PD would make the changes. Unfortunately, it would seem that kowtowing to the police union takes precedent over charges of police brutality. In reality, there is a dire need for leadership. The type of leadership that doesn’t only ask for the badges of bad cops, but that takes them away.

That we don’t have leadership at the top of the United States and Texas is obvious. But that doesn’t mean those who are on our side of the issue at other levels shrivel up and die and leave the rest of us to die. And certainly, diverting and distracting the people by making media-savvy moves is not a solution.

If your elected officials and law enforcement leaders aren’t in a room at this moment discussing how they will stop the law enforcement kill culture, change policing methods, enact real citizen review boards, reform a racist criminal justice system, and end a racist mass incarceration system, then, all the talk is just bullshit.

 

New Experiences in Cooking – Wings!

Well, after being suspicious of air fryers since their popularity came into our line of sight, I finally broke down and purchased one. Here I thought I was the last one to buy one, but I’m still seeing folks who have yet to jump into the pool.

I didn’t go fancy. Some of my friends show off their Ninja Foodis or their Cuisinart [insert model here]. I took the alternate route and bought a Gourmia air fryer, but it was the 7 quart one, which is bigger than the usual less than 6 quart one. I figured, if I didn’t like it, then, I wouldn’t feel so bad for spending 3 figures on what may be a fad. Well, thus far, it’s going quite well and it’s been worth the $75 (after coupon).

First of all, I must say to owners and not owners thinking of buying that YouTube is your friend. Well, any Google search result for “air fryer recipes” can be your friend. And you can either follow them or make changes to your liking along the way. The key is to get a good idea about temperature and time to cook. The rest is all about prepping to your liking.

My first trek was a batch of wings I had been dreaming of since I’ve been avoiding restaurants. After buying and nuking and eating the pre-flavored, over-salted and over-sugared frozen hot wings for so long, I was in the mood for something closer to my favorite wings place. Unfortunately, my grocery store only had the huge bag of frozen wings and not fresh ones. So, I settled for the frozen ones. The result was pretty awesome.

Tacho’s Come Fly With Me Hot Wings

  • Thaw the wings (I made 12)
    • Wash and pat dry the wings
  • Prepare the seasoning
    • Salt/Pepper
    • Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning
    • Trader Joe’s 21-Seasoning Salute (any multi-seasoning)
  • Combine wings and seasoning ensuring wings are fully covered
    • Let the seasoned wings rest in fridge for an hour
  • Spray air fryer pan/crisper with canola oil
  • Pre-heat air fryer at 390 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Spray the wings with canola oil (helps them crisp on the outside).
  • Place wings in the air fryer–leave space in between them to ensure air circulates around them.
  • Set at 400 degrees and cook for 15 minutes.
    • At 10 minutes, using silicone tongs, turn them over
    • After the next 5 minutes, check the temperature with a meat thermometer which should be at 165 degrees. If not, a little more time will do.
    • Are they crispy enough? If not, another 2 to 3 minutes will do the trick for that.

Of course, naked wings can be boring. So, I put together a hot sauce that you can use as a dip or to make an entire batch of hot wings.

  • In a ramekin or saucepan, melt some butter (a pat or two, respectively).
  • Add your favorite hot sauce, generously
  • Salt/Tony Chachere’s to taste
  • Mix It!
  • Nuke it for 30 seconds to a minute or heat in sauce pan
  • Use as a dip or slather the wings in it–your choice
    • Others slather then put them back in the fryer for a few minutes. Your choice!

Side Dish:  Slice a Russet potato (chip slices). Put them in water and drain to clean off starch. Season with TJs 21-Seasoning Salute, Salt/Pepper. Spray air fryer pan with canola oil. Spray potatoes with canola oil. Place potatoes in the air fryer. 400 degrees for 5 minutes, then shake the pan or flip the chips on the other side and fry for another 3 to 5 minutes. A mix of crispy outside, soft inside chips that you can also dip in the wing sauce! Or ketchup. Or ketchup mixed with hot sauce.

That’s my quick recipe for wings.  They go great with reruns of NBA and MLB on ESPN.