Grand jury declines to indict man who was accused of chasing down, killing alleged car thief

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Monday, June 3, 2024
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Harris County filing from last month shows a grand jury declined to indict a man in the death of an alleged car thief.

On March 9, Dushawn Caples was at home when he reportedly heard someone steal his vehicle. That's when he allegedly grabbed his gun, got into his wife's car, and followed the driver.

The driver, along with a passenger, refused to stop, and that's when authorities said Caples fired shots into his stolen car.

Then, at about 4 a.m., deputies responded to a crash on Golden Eagle Drive. A 17-year-old, later identified as Danell Cotton, died from gunshot wounds, and another man was seen running from the car with a backpack, according to investigators.

ORIGINAL REPORT: HCSO deputies find man shot, killed in crashed car after alleged road rage incident in NE Harris Co.

At first, deputies believed it was a possible road rage case. Caples' wife called 911 to report the stolen vehicle and deputies pieced together what happened, according to the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Caples was charged with murder and booked into the Harris County Jail. The case went to a grand jury, with his attorney claiming Caples acted in self-defense.

Sandra Guerra Thompson, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center, spoke with ABC13 in March, explaining what a person's rights are when it comes to protecting property.

"This is the only state in the country that allows the use of deadly force to protect property," Thompson said.

In this case, Thompson says there are more facts that most likely contributed to the charge. Deputies told ABC13 that Caples destroyed evidence and didn't call 911 about the shooting.

READ MORE: Man accused of chasing down and fatally shooting alleged car thief in NE Harris Co., deputies say

While Thompson said the right to protect your property is not a license to kill, she admitted the law comes close. Texans are protected by law if a person reasonably believes there is no other way to get their property back.

"With a stolen vehicle, it may be the circumstances were there was a judgment made that there were other things that could be done to get this vehicle back," Thompson said.

ABC13 has previously reported on similar cases. In February, officials said a man was shot and killed after stealing a barbeque pit.

The owner of the barbeque pit reportedly got in his car and followed the suspect after the theft. However, he was not immediately charged, and the case was also referred to a grand jury.

READ MORE: Man shot, killed by homeowner after confrontation over alleged stolen BBQ pit in NE Harris Co.: HCSO

The filing did not provide further details on Caples' case, and his attorney has not provided a statement on the grand jury's decision.