A Houston man wanted on a charge of attempted murder of a police officer surrendered to police Tuesday with help from activist Quanell X.
The Houston Chronicle reported June 18 that police were searching for a man who may have been struck by a bullet when a police officer discharged a gun after seeing another man holding a gun at 5500 Antoine on June 16.
The alleged gunman, Elliott Nathaniel Guerrero, contacted the Chronicle on Monday to insist that he did not have a weapon at the time he was shot. Crying, Guerrero confirmed that he was shot in his leg. He insisted, however, that the officer was not being truthful about his being in possession of a handgun.
A Chronicle reporter urged Guerrero to surrender, but the man said he feared police would retaliate. The reporter referred him to Quanell X, who had previously escorted suspects to police custody, and alerted police.
Quanell X met Guerrero at a gas station on the Katy Freeway about noon Tuesday, and Guerrero hopped into a Hummer H2 driven by a member of Quanell X’s New Black Panther Party.
Guerrero said he was willing to surrender after Quanell X reassured him.
“Just the way he spoke to me, he made me feel comfortable,” Guerrero said. “I was ready to turn myself in, but I just wanted someone to have my back through the process.”
Counting Guerrero, Quanell X has facilitated the surrender of 23 fugitives, including the controversial June 2004 surrender of Derrick Forney, who was wanted on suspicion of shooting and wounding a police officer.
During that incident, Houston Police Department officers surrounded Quanell X’s Hummer on Texas 288 when the activist and Forney were en route to police headquarters. Forney was taken into custody, but Quanell X was charged with evading arrest.
A Harris County jury later found Quanell X guilty of a misdemeanor count of fleeing police. He was sentenced to six months of probation, fined $300 and ordered to perform 30 hours of community service.
Despite the incident, Quanell X said Tuesday that he felt compelled to continue assisting with surrenders to ensure the public’s safety.
“If I don’t help them, who will?” he said. “Someone has to help facilitate and be a peaceful negotiator so no harm comes to officers, suspects or the community.”
After the Forney incident, Police Chief Harold Hurtt said the department would no longer allow private citizens to arrange to bring suspects or fugitives to police. Guerrero, however, was the second fugitive that Quanell X has helped surrender since the Forney incident.
No policy against deals
Houston police spokesman Alvin Wright said there is no policy preventing HPD from dealing with Quanell X or any citizen in surrendering fugitives.
“We don’t encourage making those kinds of arrangements, but … sometimes that’s the only way a person will turn themselves in,” he said.
On Tuesday, Guerrero wore a bandage from the single gunshot wound he sustained to the back of his left leg — a wound he says is evidence that HPD Sgt. J.R. Chase shot him without provocation.
The group drove to a downtown parking lot, where Guerrero sank into a wheelchair. Flanked by New Black Panther members dressed in black uniforms, Quanell X wheeled Guerrero to the HPD headquarters at 1200 Travis, where he was met by a throng of reporters before detectives escorted him away.
Houston police said Chase, a 21-year veteran officer, responded to a call at 10 p.m. June 16 about an assault with weapons. A caller told Chase that one suspect had a gun.
While driving up to the complex, police said, Chase found a chaotic scene with up to 100 people. A person at the scene told Chase that he had been assaulted by Guerrero and the suspect’s brother, Joshua. The witness also said Guerrero was armed with a gun.
At the scene, Chase ordered Guerrero to lie on the ground on his stomach. Distracted by a witness, Chase said he turned his head then looked back at Guerrero to see that the suspect had stood up, pulled a pistol out of his waistband and pointed the gun at the officer.
Chase said he thought Guerrero fired the weapon at him once before the officer discharged his weapon twice.
Guerrero said the incident started when he confronted a young man he thought had stolen his $2,000 necklace. Guerrero admits that he hit the man at least twice, but he said he never had a gun.
But police say witnesses confirmed Chase’s story.
Guerrero’s brother, Joshua, also was arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Both have prior felony convictions.