On April 24, four teens rolled up to a Jack in the Box restaurant in northwest Houston and held up employees at gunpoint, demanding money.
Meanwhile, four law enforcement agencies, including the Harris County Sheriff's Office, stormed the parking lot and ordered the three teens who went inside to come out and drop their weapons. Within moments, police opened fire. They killed a 16-year-old boy and injured the other two, an unidentified 15-year-old and 17-year-old Xavier Cox.
Now, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is saying it does not appear the teens ever fired at law enforcement to begin with — despite the sheriff's office saying in the original news release: "The suspects fired their handguns at the officers, who returned fire striking all three suspects."
On Tuesday, community activist Quanell X organized a news conference with the slain suspect's family to address the discrepancy. He charged that the boys never fired their weapons but were instead immediately shot at by overzealous police. In fact, one of the boy's pistols turned out to be fake, which Gonzalez confirmed.
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"I was not aware of anybody discharging their firearms other than, obviously, law enforcement," Gonzalez said at the news conference. "I do preface it by saying that it's still under investigation."
A joint law enforcement task force — including the sheriff's office, the Houston Police Department, the Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — had been following the group of boys after suspecting they were responsible for at least ten armed robberies in the area earlier that week. At the Jack in the Box, 18-year-old Javalon Robinson remained in the allegedly stolen Ford Mustang while Cox and the two juveniles went inside to rob the cashiers, wearing black hoodies and bandannas. The three surviving suspects were all arrested and charged with aggravated robbery.
Quanell X said Gonzalez told him no evidence of gun residue was found on the boys' clothing or hands following forensic tests, and other tests showed the real gun had not been fired. Gonzalez did not discuss these specifics at the news conference and said they just spoke in "generalities" during their meeting. Police, the sheriff said, are still trying to gather all the facts.
Quanell X and the killed teen's family have called for a federal investigation into how police handled this incident.