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Old July 7, 2002, 10:23 AM   #1
George Hill
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Note to Dirty Cops: if your gunna pop a guy off, don't have witnesses.

July 7, 2002, 9:14AM
Victim was killed with constable's gun, but who fired shots?
Copyright 2002 Houston Chronicle

COLDSPRING -- Dennis Ray Hollis was grinning ear to ear that Saturday after he and his best friend caught a string of 24 catfish from Lake Livingston.

When it grew dark, the 23-year-old oil field worker and his friend, Dustin Paradeaux, put on neatly starched jeans, Western shirts and cowboy hats.

They headed to Sundance Hall, where Hollis loved to two-step and swing his partners into the air.

But not long after dancing to the last song of the night, Hollis was dead.

The bullet that pierced his temple about 1 a.m. April 21 was fired from a constable's gun. That's about the only point on which witnesses agree.

Precinct 4 Constable Louie E. "Lou" Rogers contends that Hollis grabbed the gun and shot himself. Paradeaux and other witnesses say it was the constable who pulled the trigger.

The case has blown a whirlwind of controversy into this San Jacinto County seat, about 65 miles north of Houston, where the monthly arts-and-crafts show on the courthouse square is considered a big event.

On Wednesday, for the second time, District Attorney Scott Rosekrans will present the case to a grand jury.

The grand jurors were briefed for 40 minutes in their initial meeting in May. But this time, Rosekrans has set aside a whole day, and a second if necessary, to get to the bottom of the quagmire.

"It's a difficult case," said Texas Ranger Sgt. Kenneth Hammack, who is assembling evidence. "The medical examiner has not yet determined if it was a suicide or not. It's all still under investigation. We've been hearing different stories from different folks."

To date, the pathologist has determined that Hollis died from the bullet wound to his temple and that he was shot a second time in the left ankle.

Hammack will not discuss whether gunpowder residue was found on the hands of the constable or Hollis, which could indicate whether either had fired a gun recently. And the ranger will not talk about crime-scene tests and witness statements.

Many who were there that night said the evening started as any other at Sundance. The twang of bass and slide guitars filled the 10,000-square-foot hall, reverberating from the walls covered with neon signs and memorabilia.

The dance floor, bathed in twinkling lights, was crowded. Other patrons played pool at a dozen tables at the back.

No alcohol is served from the bar, but those of legal drinking age are welcome to bring their own, said proprietor Roland Smith, who once owned the brewery in Shiner.

"We have people of all ages come, even young children. It's more of a family place," he said. "Which is why I hate that all this has happened. My business dropped off about 80 percent afterwards."

Constable Rogers, 58, was one of four law enforcement officers hired to provide security that night.

"I really don't want to comment except to say it was a suicide," said the constable, who has held elected office for five years.

He referred questions to his attorney, Richard Burroughs, who said he doesn't comment outside a courtroom.

Meanwhile, Hollis' friends remember what happened that night, like the lyrics to his favorite country song by Kenny Chesney:

"We were brave, we were crazy, we were mostly young.

"Young, hey, wishing we were older, wish it wasn't over."

None of them knew that Hollis had an outstanding warrant for his arrest because of two hot checks he had written to Wal-Mart in Walker County. He had pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in November and received probation.

But in March, an arrest warrant was issued on a motion to revoke his probation because he had failed to report to his probation officer, records show.

The constable apparently knew of the warrant, said Hollis' friend, Jackie Chesson.

Chesson said Rogers repeatedly warned Hollis during that last night that he would be "taking his ass to jail as soon as he walked out those doors."

The trouble started when Hollis was standing outside the dance hall door talking about the warrant with the constable and another security officer, San Jacinto County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Renfro.

Renfro would not discuss what happened that night. But Dustin Paradeaux, 20, and his brother, Matt, 16, said Hollis unexpectedly bolted for their pickup.

Once inside the truck, Hollis found Dustin's .30-.30 rifle under the seat, the brothers said.

"(Hollis) had the rifle held between his legs, pointing at his head, as he tried to cock it," recalled the older Paradeaux, who grabbed the barrel to point it away from everyone.

Renfro also was wrestling for the rifle when Hollis bit the deputy's finger, the brothers said.

Jeff Benson, a game warden who also was serving as a security guard, said he arrived just as the deputy screamed that Hollis was biting his finger.

The officers yanked Hollis from the truck and had him kneeling on the ground beside the passenger door, said the younger Paradeaux.

His head was pushed against the floorboard. The constable was pointing his gun at Hollis' head, said Paradeaux, who said he was standing to the side of the constable.

He said Hollis "slapped at the pistol a few times" until the officers pinned his arms down.

Then a muffled shot was heard.

Paradeaux said he watched the constable's hand jerk from the recoil as Hollis went limp. A few seconds later, there was a second shot, and Paradeaux saw dirt fly from the ground. The bullet struck Hollis in the ankle.

Hollis' stepbrother, Jesse Hamilton, 27, also saw the incident.

"There was a lot of confusion, but there was no way (Hollis) could have grabbed anybody's gun the way he was pinned down," Hamilton said.

However, the game warden, Benson, said he heard the constable yell: "He's got my gun!" seconds before the first shot was fired.

"Then came a shot. I saw an arm drop down with a pistol in it. But I couldn't tell whose it was. There were so many hands and arms," said Benson, who said he was standing behind the constable.

Benson said he had pushed onlookers, many appearing intoxicated, at least 25 feet back from the truck. He does not believe any were close enough to see who had fired the gun.

He said he believes Hollis may have pulled the trigger, because friends said he had been despondent over the breakup of his three-year marriage. He even thought Hollis might earlier have been trying to kill himself with the rifle.

Hollis' mother, Debbie Hilton, disagreed.

She said her son and his wife had been separated several months before the shooting, and he had signed a waiver that he would not oppose the divorce.

Chesson, a beauty shop owner, described Hollis as "the happiest-go-lucky person that I know."

His estranged wife, Lee Ann, agreed that Hollis had not appeared suicidal since she filed for divorce Feb. 1. She did recall, however, that once, after physically abusing her, he had held a gun to his head to show he would never do it again.

Dustin Paradeaux said Rogers had answered a domestic disturbance call in which Lee Ann Hollis complained that her husband had abused her. Because of that, Paradeaux said, the constable might be biased against Hollis.

He also said Lee Ann often affectionately referred to Rogers as "Uncle Lou."

Hollis' wife said the constable was not related to her, but was a good friend of her mother and grandfather. She said he met Hollis that one time and had no reason for a personal grudge.

A fourth security officer at the scene, Tim Sampson, could not be reached for comment.

The Paradeaux brothers remain certain that, although Hollis made some unwise moves that night, the constable shot him without cause. The older brother noted that Hollis could never have fired the gun a second time "after he barely had a pulse."

But the game warden theorized that the semi-automatic pistol, which didn't have a safety, might have accidentally fired again while Hollis' finger was still on the trigger and the constable was attempting to push the gun away.

Since the shooting, Matt Paradeaux said, he has been to a counselor because of nights when he would wake up screaming.

Dustin Paradeaux said he didn't sleep for seven days and lost 35 pounds.

"I don't like this town anymore. I'm scared to be in it," he said.

To keep Hollis' memory alive, his mother and stepbrother went to the Sundance parking lot late last week.

On the spot where Hollis died, they erected a wooden cross with his named burned into it.
Sounds like the constible is going to be up for Murder.
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Old July 7, 2002, 10:52 AM   #2
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Sounds more convoluted than a TV soap opera.
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Old July 7, 2002, 10:58 AM   #3
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George Hill

Sounds like the const[a]ble is going to be up for Murder.
Tough call. It could go either way. It could be a case of poor arrest tactics allowing the victim to get his hands on the constable's pistol, resulting in a discharge.
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Old July 7, 2002, 11:33 AM   #4
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Hollis bolted to a truck for a rifle and pointed it at his head.
Hollis "slapped at the pistol a few times" An attempted snatch?
Game Warden heard constable yell "He's got my gun!" before fatal shot.
All facts not in yet.

Might be a tad early to call for a thumbs down on the constable.
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Old July 7, 2002, 11:40 AM   #5
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The constable will be no-billed, I predict. There was a warrant out for Hollis, and he was violently resisting arrrest.
But the game warden theorized that the semi-automatic pistol, which didn't have a safety, might have accidentally fired again while Hollis' finger was still on the trigger
A safety is irrelevent. Death spasms are unpredictable. Muscles may more often tighten than not. A Glock would fit the scenario, IMO.
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Old July 7, 2002, 01:05 PM   #6
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"(Hollis) had the rifle held between his legs, pointing at his head, as he tried to cock it," recalled the older Paradeaux, who grabbed the barrel to point it away from everyone.
Sorry, this alone answers it..... sure, families always say there kids would never dot that. It's common denile. No mother will say, "yeah, my boy Jmmie would be crazy/stupid/depressed enough to kill himself/others. I saw the signs but figured what the hell, not my problem, society raised him!"
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Old July 7, 2002, 01:06 PM   #7
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I've seen animals do some strange things after they were clearly dead. A pistol firing in a dead person's hand would be perfectly reasonable after some of the things I've seen. Safeties don't re-engage themselves after the first shot so it wouldn't matter much if there was a safety on the pistol. Might have helped when he got control of the weapon in the first place. A lot of pistols have no safeties. Sigs, Walthers and Glocks are a few of them.
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Old July 7, 2002, 01:11 PM   #8
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Lot of info
Short on facts.
So far.

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Old July 7, 2002, 02:48 PM   #9
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George, how about waiting for more information to come out before making assumptions about "dirty cops."
There are conflicting reports from witnesses.
I appreciate the information you present, but hold off a little on the accusations before all the facts are in.
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Old July 7, 2002, 07:17 PM   #10
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So George you assume it's a murder from that news article? Do you have more secret info that we aren't aware of? If not...I would suggest waiting for all the facts.
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Old July 7, 2002, 10:44 PM   #11
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I don't know if the Constable is "dirty" or not, but I know that Game Warden and he is as clean and honest as they come. If he said "good shoot" it was.
This happened about ten miles down the road.
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Old July 7, 2002, 11:12 PM   #12
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WAAAAAY to messy to tell, at this point.

The problem with looking at news stories and saying "those cops did good" or "those cops did bad" is that:

1. all facts are not divulged to the newsies by the investigating agencies

2. when the facts do come out (at trial) it is no longer a "hot" story, so it is page 15 news, wedged in between the obits and the supermarket coupons. And the internet probably doesn't cpver it at all.

3. The media is usually wrong. I have witnessed enough wrongness (either out of sheer idiocy, incompetence or, rarely, actual malice) on cases in which I was involved that i have to seriously question just about anything and everything I read or watch. Really. We place a great deal of credence in media coverage, and often enough crucial details are missing or wrong. It makes you wonder if you really know what you think you know (you know?). If the New York Times were to print "the sun is yellow" I would actually have to go outside and check before I believed them.

Good shoot, bad shoot? I dunno. Neither do you.

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Old September 13, 2014, 04:47 PM   #13
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Since the story came out, the autopsy report proves the victim did NOT have any gun powder residue on his hands. The ex constable (and yes I had much to do with getting his badge and gun taken away) told everyone here that the boy was drunk, hopped up on drugs and that is was ruled a suicide. The autopsy report proves all those claims are false. I interviewed the mother of the victim several years ago and she is still getting threatening calls. She also told me, as an investigative reporter that the constable was choking her son after he was shot and would not let EMS near the boy as he lay dying.
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Old September 13, 2014, 05:08 PM   #14
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Will be interesting to see what the Rangers produce in court.

Also found it interesting that he was first shot in the head then in the ankle......
That might be a first for a suicidial person.

But, as one moniker goes, 'wait for the translation'.
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Old September 13, 2014, 05:24 PM   #15
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This is the oldest Zombie thread I've seen yet!
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Old September 13, 2014, 06:01 PM   #16
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Will be interesting to see what the Rangers produce in court.
Also found it interesting that he was first shot in the head then in the ankle......
That might be a first for a suicidial person.
The grand jury obviously didn't have a problem with that. I wonder if the prosecutor even mentioned it?

Grand jury declines to indict constable
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Old September 13, 2014, 06:11 PM   #17
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This incident occurred 12 years ago, and there doesn't appear to be any new information. If something comes up, feel free to start a new thread.
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