HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — A Houston police officer accused of killing a 71-year-old man while responding to a call in 2020 has been found not guilty.
On Tuesday, during the second day of the trial, a judge acquitted Valdez in a court verdict. This means that the case did not go before a jury and the judge made the decision alone.
Matthew Valdez, 28, was charged with involuntary manslaughter in July 2021 in the death of Walter Cooper just days before Thanksgiving.
That evening in November 2020, Valdez and his partner were responding to a gun trouble call in northeast Houston, where a woman told dispatchers that two men with handguns were outside a building, officials said.
Court records show the HPD cruiser was traveling 90 mph in a 35 mph zone.
Cooper was seen on surveillance video in his black Cadillac at the stop sign on Darien Street, waiting to pull away. A HPD cruiser passes, Cooper hesitates and then tries to cross Ley Road but was hit by Valdez. The Cadillac skidded across the street into a gas station parking lot. Cooper died at the scene.
On Monday, the first day of the trial, Houston police officers serving as witnesses for the prosecution were questioned at length about the classification of calls and subsequent protocols on the first day of the trial.
“Are they going to send us letters saying, ‘Hey, these are the different codes and if you see them, you know the police operate in contexts like this,'” said Lawrence Cooper, the victim’s son. “We don’t know these things.”
Both prosecutors and the defense agreed that Valdez was speeding at the time of the accident and that officers are allowed to speed when responding to a call.
On Tuesday, following Valdez’s verdict, prosecutors issued a statement addressing his speed.
“The cop (Valdez) was driving 90 miles per hour in a 35-mile zone at the time and didn’t have his emergency lights or siren on, so we felt it was an important case to bring to the jury,” said Dane Schiller, spokesman for The Harris County Attorney’s Office announced on Tuesday. “Our hearts go out to the family of Walter Cooper.”
This is an evolving story. We will continue to update as more information becomes available.
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https://abc13.com/houston-police-officer-crash-trial-former-hpd-matthew-valdez-acquitted-not-guilty-of-fatal-directed-veridct/12112968/ Former Houston Police Officer Matthew Valdez was acquitted in 2020 of the accident that killed 71-year-old Walter Cooper