Houston Gospel Artist Killed In Police Shooting

Adrian Medearis’ friends say they do not believe the police account of his death.

A Houston gospel music artist was killed Friday (May 8) in a police-involved shooting in which officers say he was intoxicated and attempted to grab an officer’s taser, but his friends say that doesn’t sound like the man they knew and find it hard to believe police accounts.

Adrian Medearis, 48, director of the choir at the Evangelist Temple Church of God In Christ and who also founded the gospel group, God’s Anointed People, was pulled over 1:30 a.m. by an officer conducting DWI enforcement on one of Houston’s freeways, Matt Slinkard, Houston Police Executive Chief, told the Houston Chronicle. The officer, J. Ramos, clocked Medearis driving at 90 mph when he was pulled over for a sobriety test. Police say Medearis resisted arrest as the officer tried to handcuff him. When he allegedly reached for the taser, Ramos opened fire, fatally striking him. 

Interestingly enough, no other officers or witnesses were on the scene and Ramos sustained minor injuries.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo told the Chronicle that Ramos’ body camera was knocked off during the struggle but it was running and captured the incident from a different vantage point.

“The characterizations of what happened that night by Chief Slinkard, from what I’ve watched, is accurate,” said Acevedo. Slinkard maintained that Medearis resisted being placed in handcuffs and Ramos discharged his taser in what he called “quite a violent struggle.”  

But Michael Stevenson, music director at Blueridge United Methodist Church said that account doesn’t make sense given Medearis’ personality. He told the Chronicle that Medearis was not known to be a heavy drinker and that when he was pulled over, Medearis was on the phone with someone who had attended a card game that Stevenson would have normally attended but had not that night due to coronavirus distancing.

“Even if you thought he had something to drink, I don’t see where a life should have been taken,” Stevenson told the Chronicle.

Although the video is still in possession of Houston Police, it hasn’t been released to Medearis’ family, Acevedo said.

However, he acknowledges that he has received multiple calls from members of the community who have said the behavior described by the police is uncharacteristic of the Adrian Medearis they know and loved.

“I think the skepticism derives from the behavior that was described … that was not consistent with his history, so I thank God that everything was captured on video so eventually the family and everyone who loved him and ultimately the community can make its own assessment” said Acevedo. “But this one night does not define this individual.”

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