CELEXA: Police Officer Who Shot Man Was On Celexa:

Paragraph six reads: “Holt, who investigators determined

fired the fatal shot, was ultimately released from duty. Gabriel

continues to work for the Breckenridge police department.”

Paragraph 79

reads:  “Toxicology reports taken on the three officers showed that

Holt also had 1450 NG/ML of Celexa in his urine. There were no

drugs or other substances detected in results for Gabriel or

McMullen.”

http://www.reporternews.com/news/2009/nov/28/shooting-death-not-forgotten/

Breckenridge shooting death not forgotten

It has been one year

since Michael Richardson was shot to death by Breckenridge police, but the

grieving continues for family and friends.

Shai Berry, a family friend,

organized Justice for Mike to raise funds to help Richardson’s family. Her

response is typical of those with questions that have lingered since his

death.

“Mike didn’t have to die that night,” Berry said. “Not only his

death, but the way he died left a hole in the hearts of so many that only

justice can begin to heal.”

Richardson, 37, of Albany, died from a single

gunshot wound during a confrontation with police at 12:36 a.m. Nov. 29, 2008,

initial reports said.

Breckenridge police officers Scott Gabriel and

Jason Holt were on paid leave until the grand jury in May determined there was

not enough evidence to prosecute them for the shooting.

Holt, who

investigators determined fired the fatal shot, was ultimately released from

duty. Gabriel continues to work for the Breckenridge police

department.

Many questions have surrounded the case in the weeks and

months after the shooting death.

The Reporter-News filed a public

information request with the Department of Public Safety and received copies of

the reports from officers and witnesses involved, as well as copies of in-dash

videos recorded at the scene.

However, a request to the city of

Breckenridge for the personnel files of the two officers was challenged by

attorneys for the city, even after the Attorney General of Texas ruled that the

city should release the files.

To date, the city has not turned over the

officers’ personnel files.

Mark Haney, a Fort Worth attorney who

represents Richardson’s family, also has been denied access to the officers’

personnel records.

Haney said last week he plans to file a federal

lawsuit alleging civil rights violations.

“We intend to file suit because

we believe that the death of Michael Richardson should never had occurred but

for the actions of the police department, and we intend to hold them accountable

for that loss,” Haney said. “The citizens of Breckenridge need to have some

light shined on that police department.”

Andy Messer, the attorney hired

by the city of Breckenridge, said he will “vigorously defend” the city and the

officials should a lawsuit be filed.

“We expected a lawsuit the minute we

received notice of their representation of counsel,” Messer said.

Messer

has filed motions blocking the release of the personnel records.

“We

think the Texas Rangers investigation shows the important facts of the case,”

Messer said. “We think the officers were justified in their actions.”

A

day before

The day before the shooting, Richardson spent Thanksgiving

with his mother Connie Jackson and his sister and her three children.

“We

did all of the cooking and everyone kind of helped,” Connie Jackson remembered.

“We watched football and stayed close to home.”

Then everybody napped for

a while, got up a little later and ate some more.

“I remember Michael got

him a great big piece of pecan pie and got on the bed and watched football,” his

mother recalled.

He slept at her house that night. They all got up early

that morning to go shop.

First they stopped to get cell phones for

Richardson’s two sons, Bryant and Bryson, both teenagers. Then the family went

to Walmart.

“We were calling each other on cell phones in the store and

finally as I was checking out I saw him by the Christmas trees and waved,”

Connie said.

That would be the last time she saw her son

alive.

After shopping, Richardson and some friends were out shooting

feral hogs. He left with a cooler loaded down with Gatorade and set out with a

rifle he kept in his truck.

“He usually never drank when he was hunting,”

said his uncle, James Jackson.

The hunting trip with a friend was the

reason her son had a gun in his truck, his mother, said Connie

Jackson.

Afterward, he went back to Albany where he lived, dropped off

the gifts for his two sons, Bryant and Bryson, cleaned up and headed back to

Breckenridge.

Hours before death

When he returned to Breckenridge

later that evening, Richardson reportedly headed over to Potter’s Bar and Grill.

In a report taken by investigators from the Texas Rangers, owner and bartender

Amy Potter said that Richardson usually came into the bar once or twice a

week.

On Friday, Nov. 28, the bar was busy, with about 140 customers

inside. Potter told investigators she had never met Richardson but knew who he

was. Several of her bartenders knew him.

She said he usually drank Vodka

and 7-Up but “sometimes he drinks fake drinks to give the impression he is

drinking.”

That night, Richardson paid for two rounds of shots for

friends and paid for five mixed drinks. He paid his tab of $230 at 12:15 a.m.

Potter said he was buying drinks for friends and handing them out just before

last call.

“Everyone said Michael was sober when he left the bar,” Potter

said in the statement. He took local bail bondsman Buddy Moser home that

night.

In his statement to investigators, Moser said when Richardson

asked him if he needed a ride home, he said he did. When the two left the bar,

he told investigators he thought “Michael was acting fine and was all right to

drive.”

“I went into my house and heard what sounded like seven

gunshots,” Moser’s affidavit says. “I never thought it was involving Michael.”

Moser said he called his son after hearing that Richardson had been

shot.

“At no time did I ever see a gun in Michael’s truck,” Moser

said.

As he drove away from Moser’s home, Richardson reportedly ran over

a trash can and was dragging it under his truck, he made his way down the street

and eventually landed with his truck hung up on a chain-link fence at the

intersection of West 1st Street and North Court Avenue. In his statement to

investigators, homeowner William Lord said he believed Richardson was about to

drive his truck through the home there.

Lord went to the driver’s side

window and asked Richardson what he was doing but noted he had a blank look on

his face.

The initial call to 911 was made by a woman who reported her

mailbox down.

Officers’ accounts

According to Reporter-News

archives, when officers arrived on the scene, they found Richardson’s pickup

caught on an aluminum gate post with the wheels spinning.

The officers

said Richardson did not respond to their verbal commands, and they believed he

was reaching for a .22 caliber rifle, so one of the officers fired into the

truck.

The investigation revealed that both officers fired their weapons

and that the fatal shot was fired from Holt’s gun.

Holt was dispatched to

the scene at 500 Court Street at 12:38 a.m.

Holt, who had been a police

officer for a little less than six years, said when he was approaching the

scene, he noticed a large cloud of smoke coming from a red 2007 Dodge Ram

pickup. Holt said he believed Richardson, who he called “the suspect” was

attempting to drive through the home and wanted to get away from

police.

In his statement, Holt claims he saw Richardson reach down and

touch the scope on the rifle so he opened fire.

Meanwhile Officer Scott

Gabriel arrived on the scene with Wayne McMullen, the city code enforcement

officer who was accompanying him on patrol.

In his statement, Gabriel

said he tried to get Richardson’s attention, by attempting to break out the

windows of the vehicle with a baton or the butt of his revolver, but he could

not.

He then fired shots into the tires of the vehicle and his weapon

jammed. Gabriel said he saw a rifle in the front seat but did not indicate he

saw Richardson reaching for it.

There was only one streetlight

illuminating the area, and Richardson’s windows had a dark tint. In the two to

three minutes from the time Holt arrived to the time shots were fired, Holt

maintains in his statement that he saw Richardson reach for the

rifle.

“Without any other choice, I reacted by firing several shots at

the suspect driver, through the passenger side front window,” Holt wrote in his

report. Holt said he recalled firing seven shots into the

vehicle.

Gabriel was on the driver’s side of the vehicle when he radioed

dispatch that “shots had been fired,” according to his statement.

“I

heard multiple shots being fired from the direction that Officer Holt was at,”

Gabriel reported.

Gabriel said the truck stopped moving, and he went to

the passenger side to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, Holt had radioed

in for an ambulance.

All three officers said Richardson looked at them

with a blank stare, like he did not know what was going on.

One of the

shots hit Richardson just above the right ear and killed him.

When

Gabriel finally got the door of the vehicle open, he noted Richardson was

slumped over to the right side with blood coming from his head. Gabriel assisted

medics in loading Richardson onto the ambulance.

The

aftermath

Texas Ranger Sgt. Shane Morrow was called to the scene to

conduct the investigation.

Immediately after the shooting, Holt was

escorted to the patrol car of DPS Trooper Grant Atkinson. Moments later, the

weapons of Holt, Gabriel and McMullen were confiscated, and the three officers

were taken to the police department where they gave their

statements.

Moments after the shooting, Gabriel reported that he

retrieved the rifle from the passenger side of the vehicle. Atkinson

corroborated that report, saying he offered cover while Gabriel retrieved the

rifle.

“I did not see the exact location of the rifle since I was at the

back of the pickup,” Atkinson’s statement says.

Witness Angelo Santos,

who lived across the street, said he saw an officer break out the driver’s side

window after the shots were fired.

“The officer reached in the driver

side door and grabbed a long brown item that appeared to be a rifle with black

clip … and handed it to a fireman,” Santos recalled in his

statement.

Meanwhile, Richardson was transported to the Stephens County

Memorial Hospital, where doctors pronounced him brain-dead. He was then sent to

Harris Hospital in Fort Worth, where he was pronounced dead. His body was then

transported to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Officer for an

autopsy.

The next day

Within 24 hours, the Texas Rangers released

Richardson’s bullet-ridden truck to his family.

And the next day, family

and friends gathered at the local wrecking yard for a memorial service to honor

Richardson. They looked at and touched the truck, which was riddled with more

than 20 bullet holes and still had Richardson’s blood covering the

console.

“He never even had a traffic ticket,” his father Wayne

Richardson said at the service.

The truck was impounded again about a

month after the shooting, so investigators could continue the

investigation.

The science

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s

Office ruled the death a homicide. Richardson died from a single gunshot wound

behind his right ear, which was determined to have come from Holt’s gun, a .40

caliber Glock semi-automatic handgun.

The autopsy, conducted by Dr. Nizam

Peerwani, revealed that Richardson had an enlarged heart, but there were no

other remarkable findings.

Toxicology results released in February by the

Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office show Richardson’s blood alcohol level

was at .053 percent, below the .08 legal limit for intoxication in

Texas.

The level of the antidepressant citalopram, known by the brand

name Celexa, was found in Richardson’s blood and wasn’t remarkable at 52 NG/ML

(nanograms). Ibuprofen also was detected in his system.

Toxicology

reports taken on the three officers showed that Holt also had 1450 NG/ML of

Celexa in his urine. There were no drugs or other substances detected in results

for Gabriel or McMullen.

Officers’ jobs

Almost immediately

questions swirled around the officers and the circumstances involved in the

shooting. Holt, 29, had only been with the department for one year and eight

months before he was fired. In the five years and seven months that Holt has

been a certified peace officer, he has worked for five law enforcement agencies,

including Breckenridge.

He also worked at the Lamb County Sheriff’s

Office, Idalou Police Department, Borger Police Department, Petersburg Police

Department and as a jailer for the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, according to

the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education, or

TCLEOSE.

Records now indicate Holt was hired by the Wheeler County

Sheriff’s Office in August. TCLEOSE records do not show that any disciplinary

actions have been filed against him.

Gabriel, 34, remains on the

Breckenridge police force, having worked there his entire career, according to

TCLEOSE records. Gabriel became a certified peace officer in May of

2007.

The family’s hope

Connie Jackson still carries the message

in a fortune cookie that was pulled out of her son’s car the day hundreds of

friends and family gathered at the wrecking yard.

It reads: “A great

honor will be bestowed upon you in the coming year.”

His mother said the

best honor would be answers to this case.

“I would like to get to the

bottom of this and find out why my son was killed,” she said.

In a

perfect world, she wants her son back, but she knows that is

impossible.

“Plus I want my son’s name cleared, of being a drunk and

pulling a gun on a police officer because I want his kids to be able to hold

their heads up and know how respected he was.”

Justice for Mike

In

the days and weeks that followed Richardson’s death, friend and family

questioned the actions of the police.

“It is important for us to make

sure if something like this ever happens again, it is handled without taking a

man’s life,” said Berry, who founded Justice for Mike. “Mike’s family,

especially his young boys, are still feeling the anguish of losing him. Their

pain is as raw as it was one year ago.”

Berry said she and others are

overwhelmed with emotion on the anniversary of Richardson’s death.

“I

hope this story reminds everyone exactly what they have to be thankful for this

year. I am completely overwhelmed with emotion this week,” she said. “I hope

someday we can look back on all this and know we both made a difference

here.”

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