By MANNY FERNANDEZOCT. Charles K. Goodridge, in family photographs, died after a confrontation at an apartment complex near Houston in 2014. Credit Shiho Fukada
HOUSTON — For 15 minutes, a man shot by an off-duty officer here lay bleeding from two gunshots in his abdomen as the responding officers stood by without providing first aid. At one point, as the victim, a 53-year-old black man, raised his head, an officer used his foot to keep the man’s face on the pavement, according to a dashboard camera video supplied to The New York Times recently by the man’s relatives.
From the time the episode was first reported, at 2:17 a.m. on July 9, 2014, and including the time the man, Charles K. Goodridge, lay unaided on the ground, it took more than an hour for him to arrive at an emergency room. An hour after his arrival at the hospital in an ambulance, he was dead.
The length of time Mr. Goodridge was left unassisted has angered his relatives and has been criticized by two witnesses to the episode and by law enforcement officials. And like the deaths of Eric Garner on Staten Island, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Walter L. Scott in North Charleston, S.C., the Goodridge case has raised racially charged questions, not only about what led to the shooting but the actions of the police officers in the aftermath.
Man in Texas Is Shot by Off-Duty Officer
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Man in Texas Is Shot by Off-Duty Officer
In July 2014, Charles K. Goodridge was shot twice by an off-duty Harris County deputy constable who was working as a security guard at an apartment complex. Publish Date October 12, 2015.
“He was shot twice, bleeding, and nobody did anything,” said Mr. Goodridge’s mother, Lucille, 75. “I don’t think that if he was white they would have just left him like that. A dog would have gotten more attention than he did.”
It is unclear if Mr. Goodridge, a former computer programmer, would have survived if the officers had rendered aid before the paramedics arrived. But experts on police procedure and law enforcement officials who examined the video said the off-duty officer and his colleagues should have done more to assist Mr. Goodridge.
He was shot by an off-duty Harris County deputy constable after getting into a confrontation with the officer at an apartment complex northwest of Houston. The video shows Mr. Goodridge sprawled in a parking lot before an ambulance arrives, as officers put up crime scene tape and put him in handcuffs. They talk to him and walk by him, but at other times they leave him alone, bleeding, and are not in view of the camera.
“They didn’t care that the suspect needed attention,” said Timothy T. Williams Jr., a retired Los Angeles detective and an expert on police practices. “There was a callousness as it relates to his injuries. It was almost like, ‘We’ll get to you when we get to you.’ ”
The treatment of Mr. Goodridge illustrates complicated issues of policing, compassion and medical care on which there is little consensus on proper police procedure.
Some police agencies require officers who use force to perform first aid to injured suspects. For instance, the Police Department in Greenville, N.C., has a policy stating that “the involved officer will render first aid to the individual until the arrival of E.M.S. unit.” But many departments do not explicitly require first aid, and officers follow more general protocols by simply ensuring paramedics arrive.
The Houston officers seen in the video work for the Precinct 4 constable’s office. Its top official, Constable Mark Herman, did not respond to requests for comment. At the time of the shooting, the department was led by Ron Hickman, who has since been appointed the Harris County sheriff. A spokesman for Sheriff Hickman referred questions to Constable Herman.
In Texas, constables and their deputies are state-licensed officers who perform duties similar to those of police officers, but who also serve eviction notices. It was unclear if the actions of the officers were being investigated by prosecutors. A spokesman for the Harris County district attorney, Jeff McShan, said the office does not disclose “what we are or are not investigating.”
A spokesman for the ambulance service, Cypress Creek E.M.S., declined to comment. Its response time of 10 minutes did not exceed the median response time for Harris County, which is 12 minutes. However, the overall delay of more than an hour in getting Mr. Goodridge to the hospital was called excessive by experts. Several factors contributed to the length of time, including a 30-mile trip to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. In addition, dispatchers in the constable’s office initially contacted an ambulance service that did not serve that area. and then sent Cypress Creek E.M.S. to the wrong address, according to audio recordings of dispatch communications.
Mr. Goodridge's family members; his brother, Gary; mother, Lucille; and his daughter, Shaniqua Clark. Credit Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
The officers appeared to be unaware of the problems getting an ambulance to the scene and put the responsibility of tending to Mr. Goodridge’s injuries on the paramedics, according to the dispatch communications. During the wait for the ambulance, the two officers seen most prominently in the video — Sgt. John M. Walton, who is white, and Deputy Constable Andres Rosas, who is Hispanic — asked dispatchers if paramedics were on their way and urged them to get E.M.S. there. Sergeant Walton, whose patrol car supplied the video, was asked if deputies needed additional assistance, but he told dispatchers that they did not.
“All we need to do is get this guy on an ambulance,” he added in the audio recordings.
Dr. Michael M. Baden, a forensic pathologist and the former chief medical examiner for New York City, reviewed the autopsy report and said that Mr. Goodridge could have survived if he had arrived at the hospital sooner.
Emlyn Addison October 13, 2015
Gun violence--even police gun violence--only confirms what the gun violence apologists would have us believe: that in a country of 310...
Eric Garner, anyone? These cops are just bad people who do bad things to unarmed citizens, for which they never seem to pay. They keep on...
First of all, the article should be clear that this did not happen in the City of Houston, but in an adjacent, unincorporated part of Harris...
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“They watched while he was bleeding to death, and that bleeding could have been stopped because it didn’t hit any major organs,” he said. “The fact that they didn’t do any CPR in this instance probably didn’t matter much. The thing that had to be done in this case is stop the internal bleeding, and you can’t do that from the outside. You’ve got to do it in the operating room.”
A Harris County grand jury in June declined to indict Deputy Constable Francisco J. Ruiz, the officer who shot Mr. Goodridge. The shooting unfolded at the Village in the Woods, an apartment complex in Cypress. Mr. Goodridge had moved to Houston from the Boston area and had struggled after suing his employer, Hewlett-Packard, in 2007 and 2008 for racial discrimination and nonpayment of overtime, according to court documents. The case was settled in 2009, but he lost his job as part of the settlement and lost touch with relatives.
He was evicted from his apartment at the Village in the Woods, but continued to return to the complex and had been given a trespass warning, the authorities said. Deputy Ruiz also lived there and worked while off duty as a security guard at the complex. That morning, Deputy Ruiz was patrolling the complex at about 2 a.m. and spotted Mr. Goodridge in the fitness center.
Deputy Ruiz, who is Hispanic, told prosecutors that he went to get his gun and his badge and entered the fitness center to tell Mr. Goodridge that he was not supposed to be on the property. He tried to handcuff Mr. Goodridge, but Mr. Goodridge pulled away, and Deputy Ruiz followed him to the parking lot, where Mr. Goodridge attacked him, according to the deputy’s version of events.
The deputy “became fearful that Goodridge was going to take his gun and kill him with it, so when he gained some distance from Goodridge, Ruiz pulled the gun and shot Goodridge twice,” Mr. McShan said, summarizing what the officer told prosecutors
Mr. Goodridge’s brother, Gary, is skeptical of that description. “He had never been in a fight,” he said of his brother. “To think that for the first time in his life he’s going to go after someone who’s a policeman and has a gun is absolutely unbelievable.”
As Mr. Goodridge lay in the parking lot, two people who lived in the complex said they heard the officers tell him to “stop talking” and “stop moving.” One of the witnesses, a woman who did not want her name used out of fear of retribution from the authorities, said she could hear Mr. Goodridge moaning.
“There was no sense of urgency,” she said. “It was not only just a long period of time. There were long times in between anybody even acknowledging he was on the ground.”