Christmas night ended in death at a popular lounge in Texas City, TX as a 20- year old black man named Carlton Smith was shot to death by a Texas City police officer, Christopher Hamm, in the early hours.
Officers were called to H.T.’s Lounge on Hwy FM 1765 at Lake Road at 1:20 am asking for assistance in closing the club. Witnesses have repeatedly said that there was a fight in the club that allegedly the young woman who was with Smith was involved in. The participants in the altercation were said to be removed from the club and then another fight broke out that involved the deceased.
“It all started off that there was a fight that broke out in the club and one thing led to another and somehow it ended up outside. As they go outside my buddy Carlton was getting jumped by six or seven people and the only one to defend him was himself. His cousin, Erica, got a gun and shot in the air to get everyone away from him and as she shot it in the air someone hit her and she fell,” said an eye-witness, whom wished to keep his name private,as he stood with Smith’s family. That’s when Carlton grabbed the gun and that’s when he started shooting at the ground to get them away from him, everybody got away from him and as he had the gun pointed to the ground the law man just shot him in the head, first shot, and then when he was going down he shot him in the shoulder,second shot and then he just walked up on him and he shot him like four more times.”
The trouble with this incident is the many different recountings of what really happened.
Texas City Police Chief Robert Burby held a press conference the same day as the shooting, December 26th, to issue a statement that varies from many several eye- witness testimonies.
“Upon arrival to the scene the deceased was observed in the front parking lot firing a handgun in the direction of the patrons who were exiting through the front door of the establishment,” said chief Burby. “The Texas City police officer arrived in the parking lot and saw the individual shooting a handgun in the direction of people and drew his service weapon. The deceased turned towards the officer and pointed his gun at the officer. The officer then fired his weapon striking the deceased. The deceased was pronounced dead at the scene.”
H.T. Aldridge, owner of H.T.’s Lounge, who has operated this heavily frequented club for over 30 years handed over surveillance videos over to the authorities and is cooperating with the investigation.
On Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 5:00pm, the Smith family led by activist Quanell X held a press conference on the steps of Texas City Police Department asking for the releasing of the videotape to the family and public. Due to the conflicting reports community members such as King Yashua and the Nation of Liberation feel as if Smith was assassinated. Quanell X has joined the family and community to demand transparency under “questionable circumstances” that surround this shooting.
“We just have three demands that’s all.Release the video tape. We are asking that the videotape be released we want that tape from the night of the club to be released,” said Quanell X. “That will tell the truth about what happened at that club that night. So if for the sake for transparency and justice, release the videotape because we believe the videotape will tell the story according to eye witnesses the young man was shot from the back.”
The hurt of the family was profound as his mother, Kathy Kelly, could barely express her thoughts on the situation. All she could manage to say was, “I cant describe how it feels.”
The sadder issue was the opposition the family met by supporters of the Texas City Police Department that created a stir during the brief press conference.
Protestors revved up the motorcycle engines to try and block communication between Quanell X and the media. They tried to over power the eyewitness and mother. It quickly escalated to racial rhetoric and that only added more grief to a tragic situation.
“Just go home,” yelled a protestor. “The truth is going to come out,” responded King Yeshua.”We want America to see how we are treated down here. We are in the heart of the confederacy. You should have never assassinated the man.”
The press conference fell apart as the two sides mashed up in a shouting match that lasted longer than the press conference. Eventually prayer was given although it was not respected by everyone present. Over time more and more community members started to show up due to the heavy circulation of social media posts about the highly charged event.
Quanell X gathered the crowd together in the dark,cold and rainy night to tell them to pray and not to be led into something that was not intended, to leave with respect.
“We want one thing ,we only want one thing, We have spoken to eyewitnesses who haven’t even given statements to the police yet and we want the actual footage, let everybody see. If the brother was wrong then we need to see because none of us are defending someone who is wrong but if the young brother was shot from the back and never given a command to put the gun down and all he was doing was grabbing the gun trying to stop the young girl with the gun and shot that many times from behind, we have a problem,” said Quanell X.
He requested that everyone respected the wishes of the parents,to be non-violent.
The investigation is still pending and Officer Hamm has been placed on modified duty.
No police were present at the press conference.
– story developing