Family of Roderick Brooks files federal civil rights lawsuit against Harris County officials after unarmed man killed by deputy

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – The family of Roderick Brooks announced on Wednesday the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit against multiple Harris County departments and officials, including the deputy who fired the fatal shot that claimed the life of the unarmed Black man.

Brooks died on July 8 after being shot in the back of the neck by Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Garret Hardin.

The federal lawsuit is aiming to hold Hardin, the Harris County Sherriff’s Office, Harris County Commissioner’s Court and Judge Lina Hidalgo responsible for Brooks’ death, which the family alleges was due to excessive and illegal use of force.

The lawsuit states, acting under the color of law, the defendant’s acts and omissions violated Brooks’ individual rights under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and, consequently, his civil rights.

The family is also alleging that Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez is, and was, at all relevant times mentioned, the final policymaker for HCSO, with the authority for setting policies, including training of the deputies and staff. The family’s attorneys further claim that Sheriff Gonzalez had a duty, but failed to implement and enforce such policies, practices, and procedures for HCSO that respected Brooks’ constitutional rights.

It all began on July 8 when, according to deputies, Brooks stole from a Dollar General on FM 1960 and pushed the manager at the store.

Hardin pursued Brooks in a foot chase and ended up deploying his taser. Authorities said while the two men were on the ground, Brooks was able to get ahold of the sergeant’s taser. That led to Hardin opening fire with his duty weapon, fatally striking Brooks.

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Authorities said Brooks posed a threat to the law enforcement officer, however, the family’s attorney Sadiyah Evangelista Karriem said several witnesses at the scene, in addition to pictures and videos circulating, paint a different story.

Karriem said witnesses told the family that Brooks was shot in “cold blood.”

Karriem further said the footage released by authorities appears to be “doctored up.”

“We saw two different versions prior to July 22, and as I am watching this third version that was released to the public, what I’m noticing is that it did not show Officer Hardin punching multiple times as witnesses have come to us and told us - five different witnesses - that he pulverized Roderick Brooks with punches,” she said.

KPRC 2 has reached out to Harris County officials in regards to the filing of the lawsuit. We will update with responses as they are received.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office released a statement, which read:

“A Civil Rights Division prosecutor goes to the scene of every officer-involved shooting. Prosecutors thoroughly and independently review all the evidence in each shooting and present all of that evidence to grand jurors who determine whether an indictment is warranted. We do this to ensure that a grand jury, which is comprised of members of the community, determines whether there is sufficient evidence for a criminal charge.”

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office released a statement, which read:

“A Civil Rights Division prosecutor goes to the scene of every officer-involved shooting. Prosecutors thoroughly and independently review all the evidence in each shooting and present all of that evidence to grand jurors who determine whether an indictment is warranted. We do this to ensure that a grand jury, which is comprised of members of the community, determines whether there is sufficient evidence for a criminal charge.”


About the Authors:

Mother of two. Award-winning lover of digital storytelling, sparked by my fascination of being a fashionable gossip like my favorite "Willona Woods" character from "Good Times." On the serious side, president of the Houston Association of Black Journalists and dedicated community servant. Happy to share the news with you each and every day!