Vigil held for father killed in crash involving HPD officers

ByRoxanne Bustamante KTRK logo
Sunday, December 20, 2020
Family remembers father fatally hit by HPD officer
Loved ones gathered together Sunday to show their support for the the family of 71-year-old Walter Cooper, who died in a collision involving two Houston police officers just days before Thanksgiving. The family says they demand justice on behalf of Walter, who died just two months after his wife.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In northeast Houston, a community is rallying behind the family of 71-year-old Walter Cooper, who died in a collision involving two Houston police officers just days before Thanksgiving.

Cooper's children said they buried their mother just two months before the fatal crash involving their father. His family held a vigil in his honor at the site of the crash on Sunday.

SEE ALSO: Houston family loses parents just 2 months apart before Thanksgiving

Just two months after their mother's passing, a Houston family is going through another tragedy after their father was identified as the innocent driver killed in a crash involving Houston police.

"Right now, his life and the voice of the ones that love him need to be heard," his son, Rev. Lawrence Cooper said. "That's why we are out here, because we want justice as well."

Surveillance video shows Cooper at a stop sign off of Darien Street and Ley Road on Nov. 21.

Two police units were responding to a weapon call at the time.

In the video, you can see Cooper waited for the first patrol car to pass, then started pulling out before a second police unit hit his car, causing it to spin across the street and land in the grass.

Cooper was taken to the hospital where he died.

"The way that it took place, it haunts us daily, because, you know, we just lost our mom two and a half months ago and to now lose our father on top of that, you can imagine the amount of uneasiness that we have had over this period," Rev. Cooper said. "This is the holiday season. We never expect to bury both parents during this time of the year. Parents that were married for over 50 years and for both of them have departed in year 51. To see my father's life be taken away in that instant, leaves us all speechless. [It] Leaves us all numb, but more importantly it leaves us all seeking answers."

HPD said the two officers had minor injuries.

In an open records request obtained by ABC13, HPD officers have been involved in 396 crashes between May 1 and Nov. 30, 2020.

In the past 6 months, only 181 of those crashes have been investigated, including 58 that resulted in disciplinary actions or supervisor intervention and 123 that are still pending investigations.

Last month, family attorney Nuru Witherspoon said they plan to file a wrongful death suit against HPD.

"My initial reaction to the video is that, the Houston Police Department killed Walter Cooper," Witherspoon said. "When you look at the video, you see a police unit speeding through a residential area. To me, that is an absolute lack of concern or care that they are supposed to serve and protect."

The city declined to comment since the investigation is open and litigation is pending.

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