Houston, TX – Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo blasted “restorative justice” and demanded that judges “stop pussyfooting with violent criminals” during a press conference on Monday.
Chief Acevedo aired his frustration with the court system just days after news broke that the 17-year-old gunman who repeatedly shot a Houston police officer during a violent crime spree on Sept. 12 had recently been released from jail on his own recognizance.
“We need the courts to do their job, and to stop pussyfooting with violent criminals! Period!” he said angrily. “So these judges…every time somebody’s getting injured, I’m gonna call them out by name!”
Chief Acevedo said that it is important for voters to be informed about what those on the bench are doing in the courtroom.
“They’re either here to stop violent crime, or they can go somewhere else where violent crime doesn’t matter!” he railed.
He also blasted the obsessive focus on “restorative justice,” and said such practices have been placing citizens in harm’s way.
“We cannot put people’s lives at risk because of this love affair with restorative justice,” Chief Acevedo declared. “It’s not about coddling violent criminals!”
Offenders are generally released from custody by the court so quickly, witnesses and victims are too afraid to testify against them, the chief noted.
“If you lived in a high crime area and you knew that these judges were gonna let a violent criminal go in one door and within a matter of hours or a day or two get out on a low bond, do you want to testify against them?” he asked reporters.
Brandon Bell, 17, was released from jail on a no-cost “personal bond” shortly after he and two other teens were arrested for allegedly carjacking a woman at gunpoint as she was passing out campaign fliers on Sept. 2, KPRC reported.
"'Get out of the car,” he said, according to victim Tina Kingshill. “I got this gun and I will shoot you.”
Bell also allegedly pointed the gun at another volunteer who was with Kingshill at the time.
Police later stopped the vehicle, and all three suspects were found inside.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office subsequently charged Bell with a misdemeanor count of criminal trespass to a motor vehicle, and he was released on his own recognizance.
According to the Houston Police Union, Bell failed to show up at court on Sept. 10, but he was not penalized and his bail was never revoked, KPRC reported.
Two days later, he and three accomplices embarked on a violent crime spree beginning at a Valero gas station on Griggs Road, according to KTRK.
The suspects stole a 2003 Chevy Tahoe from a Valero customer at gunpoint at approximately 9:56 p.m.
The vehicle was low on fuel, and sputtered to a stop on Tierwester minutes later, at which point the suspects took off on foot, Chief Acevedo said at the time.
They encountered their next victim – a priest – on Meriburr Lane at approximately 10:10 p.m.
“A priest. You heard that right,” Chief Acevedo told reporters, according to KTRK.
The priest said he was on his knees, praying for his life, when one of the suspects pulled the trigger twice.
“For whatever miraculous reason, the gun didn’t fire,” Chief Acevedo said.
The suspects beat him and stole his two cell phones, then took off on foot again.
They soon encountered a woman sitting in a Ford F150 pickup in her driveway, and banged on her widow with a gun, the chief said.
The suspects ordered her out of the vehicle, then robbed her of her purse and cell phone.
They also demanded the pin number to her debit card, according to Chief Acevedo.
Officers in an unmarked patrol vehicle spotted the armed suspects near a Chase Bank on Tierwester at 10:21 p.m., and at least one of them began chasing the gunmen on foot, KTRK reported.
According to police, Bell opened fire on the officer in the back yard of a home in the area of Scott Street and Tristan Street approximately five minutes later.
The wounded officer fell to the ground as a second officer arrived at the scene.
The second officer fired a single round, killing Bell.
The wounded officer was struck three times – once in the groin area and twice in the upper body, according to KPRC.
At least one of the bullets hit near a major artery.
He was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.
Doctors successfully stopped the bleeding and repaired the multiple internal injuries caused by the bullets.
"There was a struggle, there was a fight, there was a fight for the officer's weapon, he lost control of his weapon, he got shot with his own weapon by the suspect,” Chief Acevedo later confirmed, according to KTRK.
A 17-year-old male and a 39-year-old male were both arrested in connection with the series of attacks, KPRC reported.
The fourth suspect, described as an adult black male, remains on the loose.
At least one of the four suspects has gang affiliations, Chief Acevedo added.
The wounded officer, Officer Taylor Roccaforte, is the son of a 42-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, according to Chief Acevedo.
The 29-year-old, five-year veteran-of-the-force was released from the hospital on Thursday
You can Chief Acevedo speak in the video below: