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Houston police shoot, kill pen-waving amputee in wheelchair

September 23, 2012|By Matt Pearce

Houston police shot and killed a mentally ill double amputee in a wheelchair after he threatened an officer with a pen, authorities said.

Police arrived at a personal care home early Saturday morning after the man, Brian Claunch, started threatening his caretaker because he wouldn’t give Claunch cigarettes and soda, John Garcia, the home’s owner, told local media.

The orderly called the police. When they arrived, Claunch — who had  one arm and one leg and was in his mid-40s — cornered one officer while waving around a weapon, police said. The weapon turned out to be a pen.

The other officer, Matthew Marin, then shot Claunch and killed him, police said.

"They both attempted to separate the suspect from the officer, but the suspect continued to swing this object at both officers," police spokeswoman Jodi Silva told ABC 13  in Houston. "The other officer, officer Marin, in fear of the safety of his partner and the safety of himself, discharged his duty weapon, striking the suspect."

Neighbors told the Houston Chronicle that they heard a single shot about two minutes after police arrived.

Marin has been placed on administrative leave per department policy. The shooting will be investigated by the Harris County prosecutor’s office and Houston Police Department’s internal affairs division.

In a 2009 incident, Marin killed a man who police say lunged at him with a knife after stabbing a neighbor and refusing to drop the weapon.

Garcia told local media that, disability notwithstanding, Claunch was capable of threatening others.

"He had a temper,” Garcia said of Claunch in an interview with KHOU in Houston. “He could fly off once in a while.”

The Houston Chronicle reported that Claunch had been placed in Garcia’s East End personal care home 18 months ago by a Harris County guardianship program. He lived there with two other men.

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