Police Officers Say Orange, TX Cop Wrongfully Killed Unarmed War Hero over Racial Slur, Now Killer Wants Back on the Force
by David Bellow on July 11, 2011 at 12:02 PM
A Hearing later this month, July 2011, will determine whether or not Former Officer Robert Arnold will get his job back. Arnold wants back on the force after he was suspended last year for several reasons including breaking another cop’s leg, punching a teenage girl in the face and killing an unarmed war hero.
Fellow Officers want Arnold charged for killing the unarmed war hero after the veteran called him a racial slur. These police officers say the killing was completely unjustified and they believe the Texas Ranger who investigated the killing falsified his report to protect Arnold.
A former Orange, Texas cop is currently trying to force the Orange Police Department to give him his job back, while at the same time, a Police Officer who worked with him wants him charged in killing the unarmed veteran. Plus, additional officers say the investigation was rigged and falsified, which led to the first grand jury handing down a no-bill. This police officer in question is Robert Arnold. Arnold (who is black) shot and killed James Whitehead (who is white). Whitehead was unarmed and sitting in his truck when he was shot. Witnesses say that Whitehead was shot in Cold Blood by Arnold after Whitehead used a racial slur.
Robert Arnold was suspended indefinitely after the killing. According to Arnold’s Suspension Report written by the Former Orange, TX Police Chief Sam Kitterll, Arnold was suspended from the police department not only for his actions in killing the unarmed man, but also for his past acts of aggression as a police officer. For instance, Arnold once punched a young teenage girl in the face and tried to hit a man with a metal pipe, but missed, and instead broke his fellow police officer’s leg. The Police Chief went on to say that Arnold should have let the man get in his truck and leave and the Police Chief even said that Arnold could not have possibly felt physically threatened by Whitehead.
Furthermore, Police Chief Sam Kittrell was surprised that Texas Ranger Ken Parks, who did the investigation, said, "this was a good shooting and it won't take but a couple days to get it taken care of." Kittrell said he was surprised be the comment and told Parks to slow down.
Who Was this War Hero and What Happened?
The man killed was James Whitehead. An Iraq Military Veteran who was a hero to those he served with. Whitehead wanted to return a part to an auto store because the part did not work. He got upset because he was told he could not return the part. He started cursing about wanted to get a refund. The store manager called the police. The store manager said that he did not even want to press charges against Whitehead and the store manager just wanted Whitehead to leave the store. Officer Arnold was in plain clothes and never showed a police ID or a badge. Officer Arnold went outside to get cuffs to arrest Whitehead. Whitehead went outside shortly after Arnold left because Whitehead had decided to just leave and not try to argue anymore about returning the part. Officer Arnold went to Whitehead’s truck and tried to keep him from leaving, including Arnold placing his hands on Whitehead and pulling him out of the truck, according to witnesses. Whitehead cursed and said racial slurs to Arnold and told him he was not a cop and tried to get in his truck to leave. Officer Arnold then shot and killed Whitehead while whitehead was sitting in the seat of his truck. Dr. Tommy Brown, the Jefferson County forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Whitehead, said that Whitehead probably was sitting in his truck when he was shot.
Was Whitehead out of line for getting so upset about not being able to return the part? Yes. Was it wrong for him to curse and use racial slurs? Yes. But you give someone a ticket for disorderly conduct for that, you don’t kill them! Whitehead, although very upset, did not once threaten to hurt anyone. He never took a swing at anyone. Even the police chief said the problem was resolved when Whitehead tried to get in his truck and leave. This guy could have easily been found and given a citation if the manager wanted to press charges. But that did not happen, and instead of diffusing the situation as a professional who is trained to do that, Officer Arnold chose to escalate the situation by using physical contact and then shot an unarmed man for no reason except that the Whitehead called him a racial slur. The most that would have come from Whitehead’s actions would have been a simple citation, and the store manager was not even going to request a citation anyway. He just wanted Whitehead to leave, according to the Examiner Newspaper from Friday, April 22nd, 2011.
Arnold will claim that he felt like Whitehead was going to kill him and so he had to shoot Whitehead, but that is simply not the case says fellow officers. Arnold put his hands on Whitehead. If someone was that aggressive, they would have immediately reacted when someone touches them, but Whitehead did not react physically when Arnold touched him. Not to mention Arnold left his teenage daughter in the store with Whitehead when Arnold went to his vehicle to get cuffs. James Whitehead was guilty of getting upset and going on profanity laced tirade. He did not threaten anyone with physical harm or even attempt to.
Fellow Police Officers Say Arnold was Wrong and Should be Charged in Killing the Unarmed War Hero
Harold Hass, former Orange, TX cop who worked with Arnold has sent a letter to a New Grand Jury requesting charges against Arnold. Hass says Arnold was no-billed by the Grand Jury in November 2010 and that it was because evidence available to the prior Grand Jury was not submitted in its entirety and was incomplete due to the limited witness testimony and other facts. Hass also says that a study of Texas Penal Code, chapter nine, does, without any doubt, reveal that James Whitehead did nothing unlawfully that day that affords Captain Arnold any type of legal justification to kill James Whitehead.
Orange Police Chief Lane Martin said he does not know if Whitehead knew Arnold was a police officer and he didn’t believe that Whitehead made any furtive movements that would have necessitated Arnold pulling his firearm and opening fire.
Margo Frazier, police monitor for the city of Austin and former Travis County sheriff says, “Robert Arnold was off duty, not in uniform and didn’t have a badge. I feel he should have waited for other police officers to get there and if concerned, he should have called dispatch himself and said I need you to step it up. “Whitehead acted like a jerk, but that is not something that the penal code allows you to take his life for. Arnold pushes the issue and won’t disengage and he winds up shooting an unarmed man. I think Whitehead was trying to leave. And if he leaves, then you get the license number and everybody lives to fight another day.”
Frazier was also critical of the report done by Texas Ranger Ken Parks, saying that Parks appeared to have already made up his mind about the shooting before talking to all of the witnesses. “The investigation appears to have been conducted as if the Ranger had already come to a foregone conclusion,” Frazier said. “One of the things that bothered me was in listening to the witnesses and how they said that it wasn’t their wording in the statements. It appears the Ranger had drawn a conclusion and went forward to try and confirm that conclusion. The words the Ranger used were the ones I saw in the report as opposed to what the witnesses said. He asked leading questions and asked for agreement.”
Several Witnesses Say Arnold Shot Whitehead in Cold Blood because of Racial Slur, and they Say Arnold even Taunted Whitehead After Shooting Him.
These actual statements from these witnesses are completely different from what Texas Ranger Ken Parks wrote in his report...
Store Manager Ray Hebert says that Whitehead told Arnold to shoot him and used a racial slur, Hebert said. He saw Whitehead lean forward, then he heard a gunshot, he testified.
Randy Edwards, a man who lived down the street from the victim who was also on the scene, says that Whitehead was sitting in the passenger seat of the truck when Arnold moved toward him. Edwards said Arnold jerked the door open, stuck the gun in the truck and said, “I’m gonna kill you.” Edwards said he didn’t hear Whitehead say anything, then heard the gun go off. He said he then heard Whitehead say, “You just shot me,” and Arnold replied, “I sure did.”
Charles Bosarge, a random guy from Louisiana who happened to be in the parking lot that day, says that Arnold initiated physical contact when Whitehead was trying to leave by picking Whitehead up by the shoulders and standing him up outside the truck. Bosarge says Whitehead again told Arnold to shoot him and yelled a racial slur and that’s when Arnold shot him.
Family of James Whitehead Suing Orange Police Department Because Department Knew Arnold had Anger Problems When He Was Hired
The family of James Whitehead has filed a lawsuit against the city of Orange for knowingly hiring and keeping a violent and dangerous man on the police force. The Orange police chief even admitted that, when Officer Arnold was hired, there was a concern about an issue of anger or aggression. The police department knew he was an unstable guy and they still hired him.
To make matters worse, the family of James Whitehead will not even be able to get the Veteran Benefits owed to Whitehead because of his heroic military service.
- I completely support law enforcement. I am a law enforcement officer. But one thing that is detrimental to good law enforcement is a bad officer. I would much rather call out the random bad officers than have them put other law enforcement officers in harm’s way.
- The DA determines what evidence is presented to Grand Jury and how it is presented. The Grand Jury System in Texas Needs major reform to keep DA’s from being the Judge and Jury of who gets prosecuted and who gets a free pass. DA’s should be required to present all facts and evidence to a Grand Jury instead of just selected information.
- The Orange County District Attorney needs to re-submit the evidence to a new grand jury like he said he would now that new information has come to light, or a special prosecutor needs to be brought in.
- Robert Arnold should not get his job back later this month and the only thing he should be getting is an indictment.