When the cops shoot someone, state agencies come in to "investigate." But do they fulfill their duty or do they cover-up for their local police brethren? The answer obviously varies case to case but in Texas, all of the cases have a major obstacle to obtaining the truth: if the suspect who police shoot is killed, journalists can't easily obtain the records in the case. Law Enforcement can use a privacy exemption in Texas Open Records law to block family members and journalists from obtaining the evidence in the case.
Sometimes the person they shoot survives and is later convicted of a crime. This is when journalists can inspect the case files and examine whether or not the police got it right. It is a rare opportunity to conduct an audit of police actions.
On June 6, 2012 in Odessa, TX, Heath Stoneman was reported by his ex-wife to be suicidal. 90 minutes after the initial police dispatch, police snipers, who were concealed under a truck, behind a black cloth, shot Stoneman from a distance of approximately 80 yards. Stoneman survived. But Odessa, TX police prosecuted him for aggravated assault on a police officer and the Ector County DA threatened Stoneman with a 40 year sentence unless he pled guilty to receive 10 years. Stoneman took the deal. His family and friends never believed he was guilty.
Then I got involved.
I played high school basketball with Stoneman (our team went 43-3) and I happen to be an investigative journalist.
What I discovered was so shocking, I went outside my ordinary reporting medium (blogs) to produce a feature length documentary which I hope exposes to other journalists the opportunity to provide additional oversight on police shootings nationwide.
My non-commercial documentary, appropriately and honorably entitled, "Stoneman" will educate families everywhere about how to tackle police shootings of their loved ones and establish ground truth for why police investigations must be reformed Nationwide.
This URL provides links to each part of the documentary.
PS I decided to post this here because I recently watched "28 seconds: The Killing of Fouad Kaady." I don't know how to contact the person who produced that video but I wanted to them (her?) that it was an amazing work. More importantly, I recognize (due to my own work) just how much effort it took to produce that documentary. I wanted to thank you (whoever you are) for your perseverance and courage and artistic sensibility. Years after we're all dead and gone, people will still be watching 28 seconds and thereby developing a sharper moral sensibility. It is an accomplished and lasting expression of truth. Peace.