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Cindy George

Jul. 15--The city of Houston has paid $1.5 million to the parents of a 14-year-old boy who was shot to death in 2003 by a rookie police officer, as part of an unprecedented settlement of their lawsuit.
In a one-page condolence letter, Mayor Bill White officially acknowledged the loss and grief of Eli Escobar II's parents, who filed a federal lawsuit faulting the Houston Police Department's training for the death of their only child.
"We share in your grief, and you have my deepest sympathy," White wrote to Eli and Lydia Escobar.
The officer who shot the teenager said his gun fired accidentally as he tried to detain him.
"The circumstances surrounding your son's death were considered in the development and implementation of enhanced police training in crisis intervention and the training and deployment of non-lethal alternatives ... and prompted in substantial part an expanded emphasis on proper gun handling," White wrote on behalf of the city and HPD.
City Attorney Arturo Michel has emphasized that the letter, which was among the terms of the settlement, is not an apology.
The agreement, reached in May, includes new gun training standards for police officers and cadets. Under the so-called Escobar Rule, the department will place more emphasis on when not to shoot and how to avoid accidentally firing weapons -- requirements that the boy's parents hope will prevent other deaths.
The deal also includes erecting a plaque honoring the boy on city property.
Attorney Michael Solar, who represents the Escobars, congratulated the mayor "for having the moral courage to step up." He confirmed today that the payment, which includes attorney's fees, has been received.
"The fact that you never hear a policeman or political leader accept responsibility for this, I think, undermines the credibility of these institutions," Solar said. "I like the mayor's words and I like his tone and I think it's a very noble thing he has done for this family."
The parents have chosen not to comment further until the memorial is completed and the Police Department has implemented the policy changes, Solar said.
Officer Arthur Carbonneau was helping a fellow officer respond to a minor disturbance between two boys in the Escobars' northwest Houston neighborhood on the night of Nov. 21, 2003. The officers found Eli Escobar II and his friends playing computer games in a nearby apartment.
Escobar, who had not been involved in the disturbance, tried to leave and ignored orders to stop, police said. Carbonneau testified in his criminal trial that he and Escobar struggled and that the teenager, while lying on the ground, thrashed his arms and legs and kicked him in the groin.
Carbonneau said he drew his pistol because he feared the boy might have a weapon, and that it fired accidentally as he tried to handcuff him.
Under the Escobar Rule, Carbonneau would never have had his finger on the trigger and might have secured his gun before trying to restrain the teenager.
Carbonneau was indicted on a murder charge, but a jury in 2005 convicted him of criminally negligent homicide, believing he didn't intend to kill Escobar. Carbonneau, who had resigned from HPD, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years' probation.

Story From : The Houston Chronicle
 
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