Thank you for your story ["Two Bullets in the Back, by Randall Patterson, July 9]. You captured the tragedy and absurdity of the events of July 15, 1995. You weave a narrative that is accurate, insightful and vivid. It is also devastating. A lot of hard work went into this account, as you managed to describe, warts and all, the boy we continue to love, and the events that led to his death and the subsequent investigations.
As pathetic as it may seem, you provided us with a new experience of Travis. We were comforted by your precise sketch of Travis as a family member, and we're hopeful when we read that Travis's friends consider LSD sad and a waste of time. We regret we did not see Travis make that choice. We love and own every inch of him, even his mistakes.
Perhaps your story will help other parents more clearly see the dangers in a teen's life, and the story will lead to some healthy self-examination by law enforcement. After all, looking honestly at past mistakes is the best way to avoid repeating the mistakes. We are most grateful for your honesty and tenderness as you present facts and measured questions. We look forward to reading your work in the future. Thanks again for a rare and powerful account; it took back some space for Travis.
Skip and Becky Allen
Cop an Attitude
Kudos to Randall Patterson for his ball-bustin' expose on the tragic killing of Travis Allen. Unfortunately, officers Leal and Upshaw epitomize the arrogant Bellaire cop mentality many Houstonians have similarly encountered.
Many people will be anxiously watching the upcoming trial to see whether justice is served, or whether once again police officers are placed above the laws they claim to protect.
...The essential thing here is that there is no blame to cast. The police did their jobs, protecting the homeowner and themselves, knowing what they know in the irrationality of the moment. The boy foresaw his own death, fled from monsters only he could see, and set into motion the events that brought on the death. The provider of the LSD probably thought everyone would have a good time.
...It should be a lesson for everyone that drugs change you from a nice, All-American boy to a raving maniac, dangerous to yourself and all around you. The police in this country are in constant danger. I wouldn't do their job for any pay. None of this would have happened if Allen had acted responsibly. In the end, we all have to account for our actions. Sad, so very sad.
Lionel La Vergne
...What will it take to get justice for this family? Why doesn't the FBI care? Your article replayed the facts admirably and fairly. Obviously, Travis should not have been where he was, in the condition he was in. But does that really give the police, whose job is "to protect and serve," or something like that, the right to shoot him like a dog in the street?
I just wanted to commend you for a very thorough and well-researched article about the untimely death of Travis Allen. As a parent of a son born the same year as Travis, and a resident of Bellaire, I was outraged at these events when they occurred. I wrote several letters to the Houston Chronicle, the Allens' attorney and assistant district attorney Belinda Hill, and received no acknowledgment from any of them. I am looking forward to the trial scheduled for August. Perhaps, after three years, justice will finally be served for everyone involved.
Concept of Justice
In an otherwise well-written story, I must nonetheless take issue with the assertion that "[the Allens'] lawyer, Graydon Wilson, claims to have no concept of the word 'justice.' " Please be assured that nothing could be further from the truth.
When Mr. Patterson asked me what had attracted me to the case, I told him that it was the strong sense that a gross injustice had been done. The difficulty is that our legal system does not produce "justice," but instead merely produces results that may or may not resemble what we believe constitutes "justice."
I think that Mr. Patterson's article vividly illustrates the gross injustice that was done to Travis Allen and his parents and his little sister.
Blind Leading the Blind?
Is this half-blind reporting of honorable victims or honorable reporting of half-blind victims?
The Allens have the right to sue the Bellaire Police Department as much as they have the responsibility for the consequences of their son's actions. How active have the Allens been in putting life back together for the Deals, the parents of the 12-year-old and their small [party] home, and the community in general?
Hold Bush Accountable
I commend Steve McVicker on this insightful article ["The Special Needs of Frank Gonzales Jr.," June 11]. An innocent woman was killed needlessly because of Governor Bush and the parole board. This system is a joke.
Councilmembers Wong and Driscoll have a problem with the DARE program ["Reefer Madness," by T.R. Coleman, July 9], claiming that it has short-term effects, but drug use continues in later years. Isn't that an argument for expanding the program into upper grades, rather than cutting it?
What DARE does is put kids in contact with police officers in a nonconfrontational manner, probably a rare event in a modern officer's career. These contacts are valuable in themselves.
If Wong and Driscoll come up with anything more effective than DARE ( and I have heard no real alternatives from them), let's institute them in addition to -- rather than instead of -- an already valuable program.
Lawrence W. Newton
I congratulate T.R. Coleman on his fine and almost balanced article on the DARE program in Houston. However, I wish that Mr. Coleman had called NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) to give it the opportunity to dispute Sergeant Fletcher's statement that organizations such as NORML "want kids to use drugs recreationally."
NORML is very clear that its goal is to change the law with regard to marijuana (only) and that it is irresponsible to provide cannabis to children. It would be detrimental to NORML's stated goals to advocate or encourage the use of drugs by children.
Aside from that one error of omission, it was a very good article, and I sincerely hope that you continue your fine tradition of investigative journalism and reporting on topics that the Houston Chronicle tends to avoid.
Not Much to Speak Of
I enjoyed your article on Lee Brown ["Muted Mayor," by Tim Fleck, July 2]. The reason Lee Brown is where he is today is because he is an African-American cop with an education who could talk a little. He has learned how to talk and not say anything substantial, and along the way he has offended very few. That's who we elected. He is probably a pretty decent man, but the agenda for most of his advisers is "up with blacks."
Make a Note of That
I noticed in Charlie Watkins's rebuttal ad to Eric Lawlor's review of The Blue Agave [May 21] that Mr. Lawlor was "reminded of the Emperor Franz Josef complaining to Mozart that one of his symphonies had too many notes."
Actually, it was Emperor Joseph II who said this to Mozart, and it was about his opera Die EntfYhrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), in 1782. Mozart died in 1791. Franz Josef wasn't born until 1830.
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Doesn't Know Beans?
Eric Lawlor, in his latest "review" ["Ten Years of Provence," June 25] tells us that he keeps a copy of Escoffier's Le Guide Culinaire in a prominent place on his night table. Had he consulted this source before starting to write, he would have discovered that haricots panaches are simply a mixture of two types of beans dressed with butter. The term does not refer to beans in a cassoulet style. So, it seems to me that Mr. Lawlor shouldn't criticize the chef at Chez Georges when the beans did not arrive in the "glutinous mass" that he was expecting. If you can't find a good critic who knows what he's talking about, you should at least find one who is not a caricature of himself.
Hold off with the flowers and expressions of grief. An article in the July 16 issue ["Courtship, River Oaks Style," by George Flynn] erroneously referred to the "late" Houston developer Harold Farb. Farb is very much alive.
The Press regrets the error.