41 years later: Remembering Joe Campos Torres' death by HPD officers that sparked Moody Park riots

Saturday, May 5, 2018
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- "It's been 41 years since it happened," said Richard Molina.

Cinco de Mayo for the family of Joe Campos Torres has never been the same since 1977.

"I saw what it did to my family. I saw the devastation on my family," Molina said.

He said they never got justice or closure.

Moody Park riot of 1978

It was May 5, 1977, that his uncle was brutally beaten by a Houston police after being arrested for disorderly conduct at a bar in the East End. But instead of being booked right away, he was taken to a place some officers knew as "the hole."

"They would take prisoners there that they weren't necessarily looking to book, but take them there to 'teach them lessons,'" he said. "They attempted to book him into city jail (after the beating)."

However, his injuries were too severe and the jailer would not take him in.

"Instead of taking him to the hospital, they took him back to the hole," he said. "At which point they threw him into the bayou."

Torres was pushed off a platform falling 20 feet into the bayou reportedly with handcuffs.

"It was on Mother's Day they discovered his body," he said.

Of the six officers that killed Torres, only two were found guilty of negligent homicide. They were sentenced to one-year probation and a $1 fine.

It shook the Hispanic community.

In 1978, on the one-year anniversary of his beating death, riots erupted at Moody Park between the community and Houston police.

"It's upsetting still to this day," he said.

For the last three years, Torres' family has held a solidarity walk in his memory on Cinco de Mayo, the anniversary of his beating death to keep his memory alive and stand up against police brutality.
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