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The QueQue

The QueQue: Northside ISD sued in child’s shooting, Defunding firefighters, Chimp alert!

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Northside ISD sued in child’s shooting

Last November, Northside ISD police officer Daniel Alvarado responded to a routine call — a bus with a flat tire. Moments later, he rushed into the backyard of a Northwest Side home, shooting and killing unarmed 14-year-old Derek Lopez. According to a lawsuit filed last week by Lopez’s mother, Alvarado’s response was a deadly overreaction to a simple “schoolboy fight” between her son and a classmate. In her lawsuit against the officer, the school district and its police chief, the victim’s mother Denys Moreno claims the department showed “deliberate indifference” to Alvarado’s dismal disciplinary record, an indifference that led to her son’s death. According to court records, Alvarado saw Lopez punch another teenager at an off-campus bus stop and rushed to the scene. When Lopez ran, dispatch records show Alvarado’s supervisor told him to stay put with the victim. Instead, Alvarado went on the chase, ignoring his supervisor, something he had a documented history of doing. While Lopez tried to hide in a shed in the backyard of a Northwest Side home, the lawsuit claims that Alvarado ran into the back yard with his gun drawn, “charged up to the shed, flung open the door and shot and killed the unarmed boy.

The lawsuit cites Alvarado’s 16 reprimands during a four-year period, including seven citations for insubordination and failing to follow orders. Alvarado was suspended without pay on five occasions and in 2008, according to the lawsuit, was even recommended for termination.

Craig Wood, the school district’s attorney, defended Alvarado’s actions, saying the officer’s own report on the incident claim Lopez “bull-rushed the door, flung open the door, and it struck the officer, and that’s the point at which the shooting took place.” Of course, that’s Alvarado’s report we’re talking about. NISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said Alvarado is still with the department, though he’s no longer on patrol duty.

 

Defunding firefighters

In the past week, our Fed Up! regulatin’-hatin’ governor has swung through his first two rounds of GOP presidential debates, all the while his state’s been smoldering. With wildfires burning thousands of acres across Central Texas, claiming at least two lives and destroying over 1,400 homes, Perry took a brief break from the trail to come home and assess the damage. For a vet campaigner like Perry, it was a priceless opportunity to flash his commander-in-chief bona fides — empathizing with evacuees and cheering the state’s volunteer firefighters keeping the flames at bay. Volunteer firefighters? Oh, wait. Did we mention the Perry-directed slash-and-burn budget churned out by the Legislature this year delivered serious cuts to the state’s volunteer fire crews? The Texas Forest Service lost a full third of its funding over the next two years, and that supplemental spending bill wasn’t enough to float the agency through the first of the month. So it’s likely federal cash will start flowing as FEMA starts approving grants to pay for eligible reimbursements. If that’s not enough, Perry has said he is willing to consider Rainy Day Fund cash to mitigate damage from natural disasters. But even after this fire is quenched, volunteer firefighters will still be holding the short end of the stick. Reimbursement grants for volunteer departments were cut by the Lege to the tune of 70 percent to about $7 million, according to Chris Barron, executive director of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association. These are the departments that make up roughly 80 percent of the state’s fire crews and are first on the scene at about 90 percent of Texas wildfires ever year, he said. Those lost grants are typically used to help pay for things like fueling up trucks and buying protective equipment for cash-strapped crews, not to mention training.

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