Most officers don’t feel good about killing a civilian. It’s even worse when that civilian is a double amputee with only one arm, one leg, is bound to a wheelchair, and is unarmed. But in the heat of the moment, Saturday, an officer acted on his instincts. In Houston, five-year veteran Mathew Marin shot Brian Claunch and killed him. Claunch had been living at a group home for 18-months, had a history of mental illness, and had led police to be called in for causing a disturbance at the home.
“He sometimes would go off a bit, but you just ignore it,” said the group home owner, John Garcia. The man had lost his limbs when he was hit by a train. He nevertheless managed to intimidate the officer after cornering him and waving around a silver object, which later turned out to be a pen. The man had come “within inches to a foot” of the officer and refused to calm down, explained police spokeswoman Jodi Silva.
Marin has been given a three day suspension to desk duty, as is standard for all officers in a shooting, but the head of the local police violence group, Civilians Down, Arlene Kelly wonders how dangerous a suspect is who has only one arm and one leg. The answer, of course, is that if the man is psychotic, agitated, or raging, he is potentially very dangerous.
This wasn’t Marin’s first kill on the job. He fatally shot a man in 2009 who was stabbing his neighbor to death and refused to drop the knife.