HOUSTON – Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard are representing the family of Walter Hutchins, the man who was shot and killed by bounty hunters in Houston’s Fifth Ward in late February.
Crump and Hilliard led the family in a press conference Tuesday, demanding that those who fired the shots, ending Hutchins’ life, be held accountable.
“It is clear, you don’t have to take our word for it, watch the video, Walter Hutchins was executed,” Crump said at the beginning of the news conference. “In the African American community, we see far too often where you have the police unjustly kill us. They are the judge, the jury and the executioner, but now we see these bounty hunters- these private citizens - judge, jury and executioner right there on the spot!”
Crump went on to say that, in less than five seconds from when the bounty hunters stopped their SUVs, Hutchins was dead.
The shooting happened on Feb. 23 in the 3400 block of Liberty Road.
According to a Houston Police Department lieutenant at the scene, around 10:30 p.m., a group of men, who identified themselves to police as bounty hunters, were attempting to execute a warrant when things took a dangerous turn. It was four of them, and investigators said they work for an insurance company that funds private bail bond companies.
Hutchins was their target.
“They were here looking for an individual that they did spot. They found him over here inside of a vehicle. They approached the individual; the guy that was sitting in the car,” said Lt. R. Willkens, HPD.
Willkens said the bounty hunters initially reported that Hutchins fired at them first.
“When they approached, this individual shot numerous times from inside his vehicle out toward these investigators. One of the investigators fired a rifle only a couple of times, which struck this male and grazed him across the top of the head,” Willkens said. “Our suspect backed up, crashed into a wall. Officers heard the shots, they were close in the area. They came and gave first aid immediately to our gunshot victim and secured the scene.”
Hutchins was rushed in critical condition to the hospital, where he later died.
The lieutenant said Hutchins had several warrants out of Harris County.
Crump credits Rap-A-Lot Records founder James Prince with being instrumental in getting Walter’s story the attention needed so his death will not be swept under the rug.
According to Crump, video of the shooting, released on Prince’s Instagram page indicates that the men were dressed in plain clothes and did not identify themselves before rushing up to Hutchins. The deadly shooting was captured on a surveillance camera from a business Prince has access to.
Prince spoke to the media via speaker phone at the news conference.
“He is my family and I have definitely witnessed what has taken place from A to Z, and I said many times, this is a straight assassination that I witnessed,” Prince said.
He said Hutchins never was given the opportunity to know who the bounty hunters were.
“Anybody from our hood - Fifth Ward - we understand that there is danger that roams in our neighborhood all our lives, so for me to even witness renegades run up on him the way they did without giving him any kind of warning, without having a police light, siren or anything saying ‘we are trying to arrest you, brother,’ then you know we wouldn’t look at that no other way than robbers, hijackers, someone who’s coming to bring harm to us,” Prince said.
Crump said they want the Houston Police Department to conduct a full investigation, saying if the shoe was on the other foot and Hutchins was the shooter, law enforcement would not be seemingly turning a blind eye.