(Reuters) - A Houston man charged with capital murder in the killing of a deputy was arraigned on Monday in a case the county sheriff has tied to the “Black Lives Matter” campaign against police violence.
Shannon Miles, 30, did not enter a plea at a court appearance on charges he fatally shot Deputy Darren Goforth on Friday evening as the deputy fuelled a patrol car at a Houston-area gas station.
“Targeting police officers is completely unacceptable - an affront to civilized society,” President Barack Obama said in a statement on Monday.
Obama said he offered his condolences to Goforth’s widow in a telephone call and that he and first lady Michelle Obama would keep her and her family in their prayers.
“I also promised that I would continue to highlight the uncommon bravery that police officers show in our communities every single day,” Obama said. “They put their lives on the line for our safety.”
Deputies found Goforth face down in a pool of blood near his patrol car, dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the back and 15 .40-caliber shell casings around him, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in court.
Anderson said surveillance video showed a black male shooting Goforth in the back of the head and then standing over him and firing more shots, unloading the weapon into the deputy.
Deputies found a loaded .40-caliber gun in Miles’ garage and the same brand of ammunition as the casings found at the gas station, Anderson said. Forensic tests determined the gun was the one fired at the scene, she said.
A witness identified Miles in a lineup as the shooter, Anderson said.
NBC News reported that Miles’ mother said her son could not be the gunman because he was shopping with her at the time.
Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman has linked the shooting to anti-police rhetoric in protests against the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white officers around the country. Goforth was white and the suspect is black.
Hickman said on Saturday the department assumed Goforth was a target because he wore a uniform. “We’ve heard black lives matter; all lives matter. Well cops’ lives matter too,” he said.
Miles has been convicted in the last decade of resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, trespassing and other offenses, court records showed.
Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago; Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Bill Trott and Eric Beech