Driver claims self-defense in shooting of man in Midtown, but family believes this was 'preventable'

Zakee Muhammad was killed in a Midtown parking lot when he tried to open a man's driver-side door, police say.

Shannon Ryan Image
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Family says man killed in Midtown garage was mentally ill
A man was shot and killed while confronting a man in Midtown. But, his family believes it could've been preventable.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The family of a man, whose loved ones claim he was mentally ill, believes his shooting death in a Midtown parking garage was preventable.

"It's sad that I even have to be here in this situation because I have done everything to try to help my child. Everything. The State of Texas wouldn't help us," Tonya Brown, the victim's mother, said, while standing in front of the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences on Tuesday.

Brown came to pick up property that belonged to her son, Zakee Muhammad. A plastic bag contained his cigarettes, lighters, phone, and crumpled dollar bills.

"Imagine," she said, "It's all I have left of my child."

The 32-year-old was shot and killed on Saturday in a Midtown parking garage.

Houston police Det. Sarin Chettry said surveillance footage shows Muhammad attempting to open a driver-side door of a car where a man was sitting in the passenger seat. That man, in turn, shot Muhammad.

Police immediately released the shooter, who claimed self-defense. A grand jury will soon determine whether he is indicted on any charges.

"I don't want anybody to think my child was a bad person. I want them to know, my child, he's just mentally ill. He's sick. He was sick. It's not fair," Brown said.

Brown said her son was diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder when he was 5 years old. She said the diagnosis eventually upgraded to schizophrenic with psychotic features and depression.

On Saturday, he texted his family that he was inside the parking garage being followed by a man in a government vehicle.

"The man probably wasn't following him. He probably thought the man was following him," Brown explained.

"The fact of the matter is, it was a senseless death," his sister, Myshira Muhammad, said.

The family told ABC13 they've fought to keep Muhammad in group homes and hospitals for years, with little luck. Instead, they said he was typically sent to jail, where he was often assaulted.

"They should change these laws. They should open up more facilities," Brown cried. "I fought for my child."

State data from June 2022 shows 717 mental health beds offline and a more than 2,400-person waitlist for inpatient competency restoration.

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