In July 2009, former U.S. Congressman Craig Washington admitted in court to illegally shooting at a pair of teenagers who were trying to park in a private lot that he owned in Midtown. The shots struck the car, the boys were unharmed and Washington eventually received two years of probation.
Now, in a bizarre twist, Washington is suing the two young men, Taylor Brooks and Evan McAnulty, to the tune of $600,000 each. It is only the second time in 18 years, says Houston crime victims advocate Andy Kahan, that he can remember an offender suing the people whom he was sentenced in criminal court for injuring.
"It's preposterous, it's ludicrous, it's any other adjective I could possibly conjure up," Kahan tells Hair Balls. "It's really sad that the boys and their families have to endure not only being victimized but then having to be re-victimized later."
In the lawsuit, Washington claims that he was awoken one night while sleeping at his law firm by the sounds of someone trying to park in his lot and that Brooks and McAnulty tried to run him over with their car. He is suing based on claims that he was assaulted and that Brooks and McAnulty were trespassing and damaged his property.
The lawsuit leaves out the part about Washington illegally shooting at the two guys.
Washington's attorney, Athill Muhammad, declined to comment, saying he was waiting to get instructions from Washington before making any statement.
In the criminal case, Washington initially tried claiming self-defense, but the grand jury indicted him anyway. The prosecution eventually ended when Washington made a plea deal to get the two years of probation in the pre-trial diversion program, which allows offenders to potentially expunge their record.
"The fact that Washington shot at and almost killed my son, admitted to it in court, is again saying it's self-defense, which the grand jury didn't buy in the first place, and is now suing the boys is unbelievable, says Brooks' mother, Debbie. "He's making a mockery of himself."
But wait, the plot thickens.
Washington's lawsuit in Harris County District Court is dated December 31, the same day Brooks and McAnulty's parents filed a lawsuit against Washington in small claims court. Debbie Brooks says they decided to sue because Washington has not shelled out the $1,500 in restitution that he was ordered to pay for shooting up Brooks' car, as well as for intentional infliction of emotional distress and mental anguish. The most anyone can sue for in small claims court is $10,000.
"The boys did not give him any trouble that night," says Debbie Brooks, "and they were not there very long. They mistakenly thought they could park there. Washington should have called the police if he was that upset, but you don't take the law into your own hands and shoot."
These are not the only lawsuits Washington is dealing with right now. The U.S. government is currently suing Washington in Houston federal court, claiming he owes slightly more than $600,000 to the IRS in unpaid taxes - roughly the same amount he is suing each teenager for.
"Maybe he's trying to get us to pay his IRS bill," says Debbie Brooks. "Who knows? This whole thing is so crazy."
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.