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Brian Claunch

Brian Claunch


Double-Amputee Killed By Cops

Reported by NewsOne. HOUSTON — Mental illness prompted Brian Claunch to get rid of his own left arm and leg. Then, despite his disabilities, he spent the better part of a decade finding opportunities to run away from residential care facilities, preferring to live on the streets.

Yet in recent months, the 45-year-old man who was in a wheelchair and had paranoid schizophrenia seemed to settle into some stability, staying put, taking his medications.

That all abruptly ended this past weekend in a confrontation with police in which a Houston police officer fatally shot Claunch.

Despite his history of harming himself, Claunch’s criminal and mental health backgrounds don’t indicate he was violent toward others. John Garcia, owner of the Healing Hands Assisted Home Care facility, where Claunch was living and where the confrontation with police happened, recalled a loving but also at times quarrelsome man.

“He was aggressive. As far as violent, I don’t know,” said Garcia, who was not there when the shooting happened. “Every time [Claunch] got in to a situation with me, I would just say, `Brian, calm down, calm down,’ and I would walk away from him and in an hour or two he would be OK.”

Some of the worst aspects of Claunch’s mental illness burst forth when he wouldn’t calm down after demanding cigarettes and soda around 2 a.m. Saturday, Garcia said.

A caretaker called police. Authorities say Claunch cornered a responding officer with his wheelchair and waved a shiny object in his hand. The other responding officer, fearing for his partner’s life and his own safety, shot Claunch in the head, police said. The shiny object turned out to be a ballpoint pen.

Since the shooting, community and civil rights groups have called for changes in how officers are trained and disciplined. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland has called the shooting tragic but asked people to reserve judgment until the department’s investigation is completed. The FBI is monitoring the case.


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