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Ben Crump: Houston Police Shoot Eboni Pouncy in Friend’s Apartment in Case Compared to Breonna Taylor

Web ExclusiveFebruary 22, 2024
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Image Credit: Ben Crump Law

We speak with civil rights attorney Ben Crump about a Houston woman shot five times by police after they mistook her for an intruder. Eboni Pouncy and her friend were asleep in the back of the friend’s apartment when they were woken up by two officers who began shooting through a window. The officers were responding to an alleged break-in after Pouncy’s friend broke a window to enter her apartment when she forgot her key. Newly released body-camera footage shows the shooting barrage. “It is clearly excessive. I mean, they shot over two dozen rounds,” says Crump, who asks why police officers “shoot first and ask questions later” when they encounter law-abiding African Americans who are armed. He compares the case to the police killing of Breonna Taylor in her apartment in 2020.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh, as we bring you Part 2 of our conversation with civil rights attorney Ben Crump. In Part 1, we talked about Crump’s attempts on behalf of the Malcolm X family to get information released by the federal government and the New York Police Department on this 59th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X.

Today, we want to talk about the night of February 3rd, a totally different case. Eboni Pouncy and her friend were entering her friend’s apartment in Houston, Texas, after they forgot their house key. Suddenly, Houston police officers shot Eboni five times through a window when they arrived. They say they thought they were responding to an alleged break-in. Newly released body-camera footage shows the shooting. You can hear the barrage of bullets.

POLICE OFFICER: Go down. Go down. Go down. Shots fired. Shots fired. OK, go down. Go down.

AMY GOODMAN: Eboni Pouncy spoke to ABC News about being shot.

EBONI POUNCY: I have a baby, a beautiful baby girl. She knows that I’m not able to do the things I was able to do before. And I’m not able to be as attentive with my baby. She’s only 1. So, that’s probably the hardest part. … I started seeing holes in the walls as I was standing there. And then I realized it was something coming through the apartment. I thought it was something outside, but it was something coming from outside to inside. … I see blood, not necessarily wounds. I see blood everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined by Eboni Pouncy’s attorney, civil rights lawyer Ben Crump.

Ben, if you can tell us the story, from what you have gathered? The video footage is astounding of these officers coming up to an apartment, even if they thought there was a break-in. The women had to break the window to get in, because they didn’t have their key. But the speed with which they opened fire, not even seeing what they’re shooting.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yeah, Amy, it’s very troubling. It’s clearly excessive. I mean, they shot over two dozen rounds. You had the one officer empty her clip, then reload and empty the clip again, all from outside the apartment inside the apartment. And you’re right. If there were hostages, if it really was a burglary, you would have shot and potentially killed them, as well. Five bullets hit Eboni Pouncy, this young Black woman, and it is a miracle that she is still alive after being shot in her left chest, her left side of her stomach, her thigh, her leg, all the way down to her feet. I mean, these bullets were just coming at her from every direction. And you saw that both of the officers were shooting from outside the apartment inside the apartment. Every expert we’ve talked to has said that this is very troubling, that this is a bad shoot. They identified themselves when they first knocked at the door. But Eboni and her friend was in the back of the apartment, and they didn’t hear them.

Eboni, who is a law-abiding citizen, never been arrested, had every right to the Second Amendment as any other American citizen. And, you know, we can assume right now in America that the majority of citizens have availed themselves to the Second Amendment and have a right to have a gun and protect their home and their castle. Well, that applies to Black people, too. So it is very troubling that every time a Black person, a law-abiding citizen, has a gun, a police officer assumes that they are a criminal, and that they shoot first and ask questions later. It was the situation, we believe, with Atatiana Jefferson, who they shot into her apartment while she was babysitting her nephew, and killed her. And it reminds a lot of people of Breonna Taylor being killed with all those bullet holes mutilating her body, after they kicked in her front door at 1:00 in the morning, and her boyfriend Kenneth, a law-abiding citizen, had his gun, trying to protect his home.

But this situation in Houston, Texas, with the tragic shooting of Eboni Pouncy, who had to be reinstated to the hospital to remove one of the bullets that was lodged in her body just yesterday, is troubling on every level. And when you listen and watch those bodycam videos, you say, “My god, when will they learn?”

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Ben Crump, what’s happened to the police officers who shot Eboni?

BENJAMIN CRUMP: They have been placed on administrative leave. And that’s all we know. They have not received any form of discipline, as we have been made aware of, despite this very graphic, very, very graphic, disturbing bodycam video showing them shooting at least 24 times into the apartment. They believe it may have been as many times as 30 rounds.

AMY GOODMAN: And let’s be clear, they were in this apartment complex for something totally different, and someone said, “Go check out what’s happening there.” One of the highly disturbing things is you see that the shades are almost totally drawn. And so, when they’re shooting, they can hardly see what is inside. Explain then what happens. Explain — they’re two girlfriends, and the one who has the apartment, she goes out with her hands up. I mean, what happens after they shoot Eboni?

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Yeah, after Eboni has been shot, the other occupant comes out with her hands up. And she is literally saying to them, you know, “We live here. Don’t shoot. Please don’t shoot. We live here.”

And remember, when they start the shooting, they give no verbal commands. They say, “Drop the gun,” and as they’re saying that, they are shooting. And so, whatever verbal commands they gave, they did not give them time to acquiesce to the commands. They literally say, as they’re shooting, “Drop the gun.”

And Eboni, as you’ve heard her say in the interviews, did not know what was going on. They thought that they were being robbed, that they were being burglarized. And just like in Breonna Taylor’s case, they’re asleep in the back of their apartment. Police are around the house making noise. They don’t know if it’s a burglar or not.

Why can’t the police give verbal commands, give Black people time to respond, so they know if it’s truly a criminal situation or not, before they shoot first and ask questions later? And where’s the NRA? Where are the gun rights advocates when innocent Black people are shot by police officers? Why aren’t they coming to say that, “Hold on, this was a law-abiding citizen who had the right to the Second Amendment also”?

AMY GOODMAN: And to be clear, you’re saying that Eboni — they were at the back of the apartment. They hear commotion. And Eboni has a gun. And they come forward to see what the heck is going on: Is someone breaking into their apartment?

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Exactly. And in the state of Texas, you can have a gun for your protection. They’ve passed so many laws to give citizens the right to bear arms and protect themselves. So, Eboni was doing what every other citizen in the state of Texas had the right to do. But because she was a woman of color, seems like her having a gun presented a problem to the Harris County sheriff’s deputies.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ben Crump, we want to thank you so much for being with us, civil rights attorney, representing Eboni Pouncy, who was shot five times by Houston police in her own friend’s apartment. To see Part 1 of our discussion with Ben about the assassination of Malcolm X and why the federal government and New York City police are not revealing all the information they have about this assassination 59 years ago, go to I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Thanks so much for joining us.

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