HOUSTON - A mentally-ill man, who was also a double-amputee, was laid to rest Monday after he was shot and killed by a Houston police officer.
A public memorial service was held for Brian Claunch at the Carnes Funeral Home at 1102 Indiana Street in the city of South Houston on Monday morning.
The officer involved, five-year veteran Mathew Marin, said he felt his life was in danger when he opened fire on Brian Claunch, 45. Marin shot and killed Claunch inside Claunch's group home on Polk and Sidney in southeast Houston on Sept. 22 at 1:30 a.m.
Police said they were called out to the home when Claunch became agitated after his caregiver would not give him a soda and a cigarette.
Activists are questioning the officer's actions. They believe it was excessive force.
"When officers arrived and went inside to speak with him, he was situated in a wheelchair and holding an unknown object," said Houston Police Department spokesperson Jodie Silva.
The unknown object turned out to be a pen. Investigators said Claunch repeatedly threatened an officer in his room. Police said when Claunch refused police orders, Marin shot him in the head.
"How in the hell can a man who is a double-amputee with a writing pen be such a threat?" community activist Quanell X said.
"Remember, the person who cared for this person the most and knew him the best contacted the police and said, 'We can't control him. He's out of control,'" said Ray Hunt, president of the Houston Police Officers' Union.
Houston police records indicate that Marin also fatally shot a suspect in 2009. Investigators at the time said Marin came upon a man stabbing his neighbor to death at an apartment complex and opened fired when the suspect refused to drop the knife. According to state records, Marin has been trained in crisis intervention and mental health situations.
Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said HPD's Homicide and Internal Affairs Division, the Harris County District Attorney's Office's Civil Rights Division and the FBI are investigating the shooting.
Records show Claunch was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
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