August 31, 2015 (nyt)
HOUSTON — The man charged with killing a sheriff’s deputy at a suburban gas station Friday emptied his 15-round handgun into the back and the back of the head of the deputy, as witnesses watched in horror and surveillance cameras captured the shooting, prosecutors said Monday.
The man, Shannon Jaruay Miles, 30, walked into a courtroom crowded with sheriff’s deputies and police officers for his first court appearance here Monday morning. Mr. Miles said nothing as the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, described to a judge what the authorities have called an unprovoked attack. The deputy, Darren H. Goforth, 47, had pulled into a Chevron gas station about 8:30 p.m. Friday when Mr. Miles approached him from behind and opened fire, the authorities said.
After the hearing, Ms. Anderson said Mr. Miles was cooperating with investigators but said they were still trying to establish a motive, even though prosecutors do not have to prove one under Texas law. Law enforcement officials have said it appeared Deputy Goforth was targeted because he was wearing a uniform.
After a weekend of denouncing a “dangerous national rhetoric” aimed at the police, officials have been hesitant to comment further and to explain how it might have influenced Mr. Miles. The Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman, said Saturday, referring to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan, “Well, cops’ lives matter, too.”
Asked Monday whether anti-police sentiment had anything to do with the case, Ms. Anderson replied: “I have no idea whether it does or not. But you know what — I want to accentuate the positive here.” She spoke of a Saturday vigil and a Sunday prayer walk that drew over 1,000 people to the gas station each day.
“This crime is not going to divide us,” Ms. Anderson said. “This crime is going to unite us. People of all races were out there. That’s what’s important here.”
Mr. Miles, who graduated in 2003 from a high school near the gas station, Cypress Falls, and played on the football team there, did not have to enter a plea at the probable-cause hearing. His arraignment was set for Oct. 5.
Anthony Osso, one of Mr. Miles’s court-appointed lawyers, said: “I just ask people to keep an open mind. It’s really easy to pass judgment and rush to judgment on it.”
In 2012, Mr. Miles was arrested in Austin on allegations of assaulting and seriously injuring a man at the Salvation Army shelter where he had been staying, the authorities said. He was accused of punching and kicking the man in a dispute over which television program to watch, and he was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, officials said.
Mr. Miles was sent to a state mental hospital after an evaluation found him mentally incompetent to stand trial, said Joe Frederick, the Travis County assistant district attorney in the case. After a six-month stay, Mr. Miles was found competent to face prosecution, but the case was dismissed in 2013 when officials were unable to find the victim.
Ms. Anderson said investigators had found 15 .40-caliber Aguila shell casings near Deputy Goforth’s body. A witness said he had pulled up to the gas station with his children, and he heard gunshots, Ms. Anderson said. The witness saw a black man with a bald head standing over the deputy and shooting, and he saw the man flee in a red Ford truck with an extended cab.
The gas station’s surveillance camera video showed the truck had a trailer hitch on the back and a white cooler in the bed. A search for the vehicle led investigators to Mr. Miles’s home.
In Mr. Miles’s garage, investigators found a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol, Aguila cartridges and a white cooler, Ms. Anderson said. Tests on the pistol showed it matched the gun that fired the shell casings left at the scene, she said.