Quanell X: Grand jury system is 'broken'
02:32 AM CDT on Wednesday, July 2, 2008
By Taylor Timmins / KHOU.com
In a much-anticipated decision, a Harris County grand jury on Monday declined to indict Horn for shooting and killing two suspected burglars outside his neighbor’s Pasadena home in November.
“In this case, the grand jury concluded that Mr. Horn’s use of deadly force did not rise to a criminal offense,” said Harris County District Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
The shootings sparked outrage across the nation, culminating in an emotional, racially-charged protest in Horn’s neighborhood that pitted Pasadena against itself.
Quanell X, a Houston activist, said the District Attorney’s office has a “racist mindset” and intentionally strikes African-Americans from grand juries.
“Those who put that grand jury together picked people that look like them, think like them,” Quanell X said.
He said he was told the vast majority of the grand jurors were white, and that there was one minority.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office as a rule refuses to comment on the identities of grand jurors.
The men Horn killed, Hernando Torres and Diego Ortiz, were both illegal immigrants from Colombia who police believe were involved in an organized home burglary ring
Horn claimed he shot the men in self-defense, but an autopsy showed they were both shot in the back.
“I am very surprised that these two lives had no value, that someone can take the law into their own hands and shoot them like animals and get away with it. This is not over. It’s not over by a longshot,” Stephany Storey, the fiancé of one of the men Horn killed, said.
Storey had hoped to testify before the grand jury last week, but she was turned away.
In response to the verdict, Quanell X said he will lead a protest at the DA’s office at 5 p.m. on July 10.
“In less than 10 years, blacks, Hispanics and minorities will be the largest number in Harris County, and we will remember how we were treated,” Quanell X said. “So those in power, remember you got children and grandchildren too. You reap what you have sowed.”
He maintains that if a black man did the same thing Horn did, he would have received jail time.
“This was a wild and out-of-control Western-thinking, gun-toting man who saw the opportunity to be judge, jury and executioner, and Harris County let him get away with it. But we’re not going to let him get away with it,” Quanell X said.
As for Horn’s neighbors, the activist said he sympathizes with the fact that they don’t want unrest in their community, but he thinks they need to let law enforcement take care of criminals.
“We said from day one we deplore and condemn the criminal act they were participating in, but we do not believe you use criminal behavior to solve criminal activity
,” Quanell X said.
Meanwhile, Quanell X said he is meeting with civil attorneys to discuss the next legal move. He said he planned to lobby lawmakers to change the Castle Doctrine
, which he believes is racially motivated
The Castle Doctrine is a controversial law that gives Texans a stronger right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, cars and workplaces.
But not everyone was displeased with the grand jury’s decision.
“I think the evidence showed that Joe was, in fact, within his legal rights to do what he did. He didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have any other alternative,” said Horn’s attorney, Tom Lambright.
Horn testified before the jurors for about 90 minutes on Friday before he was escorted out of the courtroom in secret.
Lambright said Horn still feels awful about the shooting and is not ready to comment publicly yet. But he said that Horn is very grateful to the people who supported him and stood behind him.
The whole controversy started back in November, when Horn called 911 to report that two men were burglarizing his neighbor’s home.
During the 911 call, the operator repeatedly warned Horn to stay inside.
“I’ve got a shotgun do you want me to stop ‘em?” Horn asked.
“Nope don’t do that. Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over OK?,” the Pasadena dispatcher said as he called out officers to the scene.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m not gonna let ‘em go, I’m not gonna let them get away with this (expletive),” he told the dispatcher.
Then a short time later: “I can’t take a chance on getting killed over this. I’m gonna shoot. I’m gonna shoot.”
The entire shooting was caught on tape.
Horn can be heard telling the suspects, “You’re dead,” followed by a loud boom. (BULL-CRAP! He said, "Move, you're dead." Lamestream media at it's best.)
Lambright, who has known Horn for decades, said his client is normally a quiet, humble man and his behavior that day was out of character.
Many of Horn’s friends and neighbors have supported him throughout the ordeal, some even applauding his actions.
Others, like Quanell X, feel he is nothing more than a vigilante.
“How can you call the man who shoots two men in the back a hero,” Quanell X said.