Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Pasadena Police Officers Found Not Guilty in Man’s Death

When police officers are accused of excessive force, the story is usually big news. Here in the Houston area, we have been following such a case for nearly a year and a verdict was reached in the criminal trial yesterday.

In Pasadena, Texas, two members of that city’s police department were determined to be not guilty by a jury in the death of Pedro Gonzales, Jr., who was in police custody when his life ended. As expected, the fate of the police officers came down to whose version of what happened that night was to be believed by those twelve men and women who were given the task of dissecting the facts.

Mr. Gonzales passed away in a holding facility after a late-night confrontation with Officers Jason Buckaloo and Christopher Jones. The county medical examiner testified that Gonzales died as a result of eight broken ribs that flooded blood into his chest. The defense presented a doctor who asserted that the death was the result of intense alcohol withdrawal, and that any force used was just done in response to erratic behavior by Mr. Gonzales.

We certainly want our law enforcement to take the measures necessary to protect the general public, while also knowing that the rights of each individual are being maintained. In these situations of “who do you believe,” we are reminded of the trust and responsibility we place in our police officers every day.

The family of Mr. Gonzales plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit in District Court. There is a lower burden of proof required for this civil action than for the criminal trial just completed, so we will have to wait and see if the outcome remains the same for these two men the second time around.

The law firm of Bertolino LLP has attorneys who specialize in the area of wrongful death lawsuits. If you are dealing with the painful loss of a loved one and you believe someone is at fault, please contact our Houston, Austin or San Antonio offices and allow us the opportunity to help you.

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