Thousands turn out as Deputy Darren Goforth is laid to rest

Jason Fochtman

Photo: Jason Fochtman

It was a somber occasion as people lined up to pay their respects to slain Deputy Darren Goforth.

More than 11,000 people filled the sanctuary and overflow areas at Second Baptist Church on Friday morning. An estimated 20,000 people were outside the church and in the Spring Branch area to show their respect to the 10-year veteran Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy who was gunned down last Friday night while refueling his vehicle at a gas station in Cypress.

Once the greeting, scripture and prayer were given, remarks were made by Sheriff Ron Hickman, Houston Police Department Lt. Roland de Los Santos and Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Shannon Bowdoin.

“This is a loss suffered from our community,” Hickman said. “There’s no telling how many lives were touched by [Deputy] Darren.”

Goforth’s childhood friend, De Los Santos spoke highly of the fallen deputy.

“[Darren] was a good person who was a hard worker and self-sufficient,” said De Los Santos. He described Goforth as a family man with a great sense of humor and who enjoyed fixing cars.

Law enforcement personnel sat with public officials in the church, their badges representing different agencies nationwide, coast-to-coast. Blue lighting filled the room and lit up the walls in honor of policemen who wear their blue uniform to service their communities. A sea of people wearing blue was seen from the parking to the inside of the church.

Dr. H. Edwin Young delivered the message and closing prayer.

In his closing remarks, De Los Santos informed the attendees that Goforth recently bought Captain America shirts so that he and his son could wear them together. Goforth did not get a chance to wear the shirt with his son. At the funeral, his son wore the shirt and his dad wore his under the uniform in which he is now buried.

“He has gone to be better place, but his life wasn’t a tragedy [It] was a victory because he brought so many people together. It is making a big impact and a difference,” said HCSO Deputy Willie M. Drew Jr. “I think it’s going to be a time of healing, but we are still going to be there for the community.”

Goforth, 47, leaves behind a wife and two children. Following the funeral service, internment was at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Shannon Miles, 30, has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder in connection with the case. He is currently being held without bond in the Harris County Jail awaiting his next court appearance.

Life Skills House Hosts Identity Matters Workshop

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 2.48.00 PMLife Skills House is hosting an “Identity Matters” workshop.

We believe that one’s success in life is largely attributed to one’s perception of self. How we think and feel about ourselves and our abilities will generally dictate our actions and eventually determine our destiny. Unfortunately, with different life encounters, our true identity tends to get somewhat distorted. We feel that if we can help people adjust their mindsets and replace faulty thought patterns with the truth, then there is no limit to their potential accomplishments.

We aim to help them tap into and unleash their God-given gifts and talents. We also want to help them understand the importance of safeguarding their identity through practicing effective safety measures on social media. Additionally, we aim to help them take a proactive approach in safeguarding their children as well. 

PET MICROCHIP CLINIC

One in three pets will get lost during their lifetime. Microchipping is the best way to ensure your pet finds their way back home. The Clinic will be held monthly on the 2nd Saturday.

Date:             September 12, 2015 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Location:     Animal Control & Adoption Center, 2002 Old Alvin Road

Cost:             $10, includes 1-year free registration with Home Again National Pet Recovery Database.

Pearland Teen Citizen Police Academy begins Sept. 14

11222193_866255793427961_4519622212210159503_nA new program is starting this fall to give young people the opportunity to learn about the Pearland Police Department. The Teen Citizens Police Academy is an educational and informative program modeled after the Pearland Citizens Police Academy. For more information, go to our Web site http://www.pearlandtx.gov/ptcpa or contact Officer Z. Davis at 281.997.4176

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Prayer Vigil For Deputy Goforth Friday in Pearland

Vigil

Pearland Police Officer’s Association Calls for an Apology From Lamar Lathon

PRESS RELEASE

PPOAThe Pearland Police Officer’s Association, representing 145 Pearland Police Officers, calls on Lamar Lathon to apologize for his inaccurate and inflammatory mischaracterizations of his treatment by the Pearland Police Department during a traffic stop. Mr. Lathon was stopped on September 1 for driving 65 MPH in a 50 MPH zone. In statements later made to the media, Lathon stated that the officer’s gun was “aimed at this face.” Newly released dash cam video clearly refutes Lathon’s assertions. As a matter of fact, the officer only drew his weapon after Lathon repeatedly refused to follow his instructions to not reach under the driver’s seat.

“It is very disappointing that during these difficult and challenging times, a public figure such as Mr. Lathon would attempt to divide the community and law enforcement.” “This is not a perception issue about what transpired during the traffic stop, it is an outright lie.” said John DeSpain, President of the Pearland Police Officer’s Association.

As a former NFL Pro Bowler, Lathon is looked up to and considered a role model by many in the community. Mr. Lathon needs to take ownership of words and actions, and apologize to the men and women of the Pearland Police Department that fearlessly protect and serve their community in these very dangerous times.

UPDATED: Pearland Police Release Dash-Cam Footage Of Lathon Traffic Stop

PPD

PRESS RELEASE

The Pearland Police Department was made aware of reports to local media that one of its officers may have acted inappropriately during an early morning traffic stop on September 1, 2015. In response to the local reports and to remain transparent, the dash cam footage of the two officers involved in the incident will be released in its entirety both to the public as well as the media venues requesting it.

The traffic stop occurred on September 1, 2015 at approximately 1:15 a.m., ending in the parking lot of a gas station at the intersection of Shadow Creek Parkway (FM 2234) at Almeda Road (FM 521). The driver was identified as Lamar Lathon DOB12.23.67. In order to better illustrate the course of events, a timeline corresponding to the time provided by the in-car video is provided below:

1:12 a.m. – The Pearland Police vehicle was eastbound on Shadow Creek Parkway west of Kingsley Drive and made a U-turn in order to follow the westbound vehicle that was observed speeding.

1:14 a.m. – The officer in a marked Pearland Police vehicle was behind the suspect vehicle stopped for the red light in the turn lane for southbound traffic onto Almeda Road. It appeared as if the driver was on a phone – the lit screen was clearly visible through the rear window.

1:15 a.m. – When the light turned green, the officer activated the emergency overhead lights to initiate a traffic stop. The suspect vehicle pulled into the lit parking lot of the convenience store. Upon approaching the vehicle, the driver appeared to be talking to someone as the officer introduced himself and asked for the driver’s license and proof of financial responsibility. In the video, the officer was then clearly heard giving the driver three distinct orders not to reach under his seat. When the orders were ignored by the driver, the officer unholstered his weapon and held it at a low ready position near the driver’s door in preparation for the possibility of the driver drawing a weapon from under the seat. The officer was clearly heard repeating the same order four more times for the driver to not reach under the seat. When the driver’s hands were in view and the officer could see that they held a wallet, the officer re-holstered his weapon and proceeded with the traffic stop.

1:16 a.m. – The driver can be heard speaking to someone and said, “Man, I’m not worried about no policeman talkin’ about killing me, (name redacted), I’m just trying to figure out why he’s pulling me over.” The officer explained that the reason for the stop was speeding. In response to the driver’s comment regarding the officer taking so long to make the traffic stop, the officer explained that he had to turn around and catch up to the driver.

1:18 a.m. – The officer returned to his vehicle to complete the citation and await a secondary officer.

1:24 a.m. – After a secondary officer arrived, the primary officer returned to the stopped vehicle in order to continue his traffic stop. The primary officer asked the driver several times to exit the vehicle. The driver expressed concern and said, “With all the stuff that’s happening and I’m a big guy and you’re a little guy.” The officer pointed out that they were in a lit parking lot.   The driver continued by pointing out that the officer had already pulled his TASER out on him; the officer clarified that, “No, I pulled my gun on you because you were reaching under the seat.”

1:25 a.m. – After the driver exited the vehicle, the officer explained that he would search the car for weapons since the officer did not know what the driver had been reaching for. When the driver objected and made movement back toward the car, the officer raised his hand to stop the driver from returning to the vehicle prior to his search. The driver then stood by with a secondary officer while the primary officer conducted a brief search of the driver’s area of the vehicle for weapons; the search lasted approximately twelve seconds.

1:26 a.m. – The primary officer continued to explain the reason for the search and pointed out that the driver should have told him what he was reaching for. The officer continued to issue a speeding citation. While doing so, the officer found it necessary to repeat himself three times in order for the driver to provide his contact number for the citation.

1:27 a.m. – The driver mentioned his deceased mother and the officer stated, “I’m sorry to hear that.” The driver used profanity several times while addressing his concern over the citation. The driver received the citation and immediately started walking toward his vehicle and there was another terse interaction as driver’s license was returned. The traffic stop concluded and the driver was released at the scene.

Based on review of the video footage, it is the position of the Pearland Police Department that the response of the officers involved in this traffic stop was professional and within both the law and policies of this agency. The primary officer was tactically aware, maintained control of the scene and attempted to de-escalate a volatile situation brought on by a driver who refused to follow directions and whose primary complaint seemed to be the issuance of a citation.

The citation received by the driver is a matter to be addressed by the Pearland Municipal Court.

Videos below via Pearland Police Dept. Facebook Page: