Last August, a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy was filling up gas at a Chevron station just outside of downtown Houston when someone walked up to him and shot him the back of the head.
The suspect went on to shoot the deputy 15 more times.
The aftermath of Darren Goforth’s killing sparked a public conversation about violence against police, becoming a rallying cry for the so-called Cops’ Lives Matter movement, a sort of response to critical public sentiment towards law enforcement officials.
Now it seems the case is yet again police under scrutiny, after spiraling into a sex scandal. Community leaders says they’ve heard enough.
Reporter St. John Smith has been following the story for the Houston Chronicle. He says in the months since an emotional press conference the night after Goforth’s death, the case has become a “burgeoning sex scandal” which has rocked the sheriff’s department.
“We have not really seen any specific motive as to what prompted his death,” Smith says. “There was an eyewitness at his murder who said she’d been having an affair with him for some time. And then several weeks later a homicide investigator – it was revealed that he had also been seeing this woman in the days after Goforth’s death.”
“Then earlier this week a third member of the sheriff’s office, it was revealed he was involved with this woman, first before Goforth and then afterwards. He was fired and then the next day, another deputy was fired for inappropriate communications with her.”
The suspect, Shannon Miles, was accused of pulling the trigger and has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. But the scrutiny has shifted from Miles to the sheriff’s department.
“It’s sort of raised these questions of the culture of the department and what people do under the color of authority,” Smith says. “(Miles’ lawyer) has basically tried to use this information to discredit the department and also to argue that Deputy Goforth wasn’t on duty when he was killed. I don’t even know how that legal strategy is going to work. His hope if this ever comes to trial is to use that to take capital murder off the table.”
There have also been calls for the Texas Rangers to investigate the misconduct in the sheriff’s office.
“It seems like every day there’s a new twist or new development to this case and nothing would surprise me,” Smith says.