Alleged Murderer Appears in Court

He said little, as police and prosecutors continue to look for a motive

By Crawford Coates  |   Aug 31, 2015

Shannon J. Miles, the man who allegedly executed Harris (Texas) County Deputy Darren Goforth, appeared briefly in Houston District Court today. He said very little, except to answer the judges questions. Miles is being held without bond.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson read the probable cause statement during the hearing, saying that police received a call of an officer down at 8:20 p.m. Friday. When police arrived at the gas station in the Houston suburb of Cypress, they found Deputy Darren Goforth face-down in full uniform.

Goforth, 47, had been shot 15 times, Anderson said, adding that the suspect “unloaded the entire pistol into Deputy Goforth.” She also said a witness saw the shooting and that the shell casings match the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun found at Miles’ home.

Anderson would not comment on a motive to reporters after the hearing.

Incident and Arrest

Goforth had stopped for gas at the Chevron station after responding to an earlier traffic accident, Deputy Thomas Gilliland said at a press conference, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“The deputy fell to ground… the suspect came over and shot the deputy again multiple times as he lay on the ground,” Gilliland said. The deputy was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gilliland said he believes it was a random, vicious attack, according to KTRK. Miles has a lengthy criminal record.

“In my 45 years in law enforcement, I can’t recall another incident so cold-blooded and cowardly,” Sheriff Ron Hickman told the Houston Chronicle.

Goforth is the first police officer killed in a line of duty shooting this year in Texas. He is the 20th officer fatally shot this year nationwide, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

“This is shocking, it was just completely out of the blue,” said Bob Goerlitz, president of the Harris County Deputies Organization. “We’ve been warned of things like this – because of public sentiment nationally and events over the last few years… It’s just horrific. That’s the only way to describe it.”

Police first questioned Miles at around 2:30 a.m. after receiving a tip. He was not officially arrested until Saturday afternoon. According to initial reports, Miles’ mother may have turned him in to police, though accounts quoted a woman who claimed that her son was innocent. Hickman said Saturday that they found Miles through “routine research” and without his mother’s help.

A Facebook account which appears to belong to Miles shows that he claims to have attended several Houston-area colleges, including the University of Houston and Prairie View A&M.

The latter is the university attended by Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old women who committed suicide in a Waller County, Tex. jail in July. Bland’s treatment by police and suicide have been the subject of multiple protests.

In a press conference held early Saturday afternoon before Miles’ arrest, Sheriff Hickman blasted the “very dangerous national rhetoric” being used by anti-police activists. In the follow-up press conference, Hickman said that investigators are considering that as a motive and added that “that kind of rhetoric can be influential on people to do things like this.”

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Crawford Coates

Crawford Coates

Crawford Coates is the author of Mindful Responder: The First Responder's Field Guide to Improved Resilience, Fulfillment, Presence, & Fitness--On & Off the Job and the publisher at Calibre Press.
Crawford Coates

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