Viral surveillance video showed two Houston bounty hunters in plainclothes blocking the car of a Black father before shooting and killing him, reports Fox 26.
The video showed Walter Hutchins walking to his car in Houston's Fifth Ward at about 10:30 PM on Wednesday, the news station reported.
Two unmarked vehicles drove up and blocked Hutchins' car in, and soon after, a bounty hunter is seen shooting at Hutchins, who was hit in the head, Fox 26 reported.
Houston police Lt. R. Willkens told NBC-affiliated KPRC-TV that four bounty hunters and investigators for a bail bond insurance company responded to the scene. He said they were there for Hutchins, who was wanted on several warrants in Harris County. "They found him over here, inside of a vehicle," Willkens told KPRC. "They approached the individual, the guy that was sitting in the car."
Willkens said when two bounty hunters approached Hutchins, he fired numerous times from inside his vehicle toward investigators. "One of the investigators fired a rifle only a couple of times, which struck this male and grazed him across the top of the head,” Willkens said. “Our suspect backed up, crashed into a wall. Officers heard the shots, they were close in the area. They came and gave first aid immediately to our gunshot victim and secured the scene.”
Hutchins was taken in critical condition to a hospital, where he later died, KPRC reported.
Christopher Powell, a private investigator with A-Mobile Bail Bonds, which isn't unaffiliated with the incident, told Fox 26 he makes sure his team members are clearly identifiable as bounty hunters. "I make sure we’re properly identifiable," he said. "We have badges. We have our vest. They have patches on them that show what we are."
He also said he understands how the situation Hutchins was killed in could have been confusing. "The area they’re in is Fifth Ward and obviously it’s late at night," Powell said. "Just running up on someone in plain clothes, they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know if you’re gang-affiliated, if you’re doing a robbery, if you’re about to steal their car."
Warning: Videos in this story contain violent footage of a man being shot that may be triggering to viewers.
Attorneys Ben Crump and Bob Hilliard have been retained to represent Hutchins' family. Crump said in a tweet on Monday that Hutchins was “cornered.”
“Due to the careless actions of his killers, Walter leaves behind his family—including a newborn baby!” Crump said. “They cannot escape accountability for his unnecessary death! As the investigation into his death continues, we will continue to demand they face charges!”
The Houston Police Department (HPD) told Fox 26 its investigation is ongoing and will be presented to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. The district attorney’s office said in a statement to Daily Kos on Tuesday: “At this point, the matter remains in the hands of HPD. I would refer you to police to discuss their work.”