Last Wednesday at around 10:30 p.m., 31-year-old Walter Hutchins was shot and killed in Houston, Texas, by two bounty hunters attempting to execute a warrant while in plainclothes and in unmarked cars.
A “reliable source” told Fox 26, the two men work for Fearless Bail Bonds, but they didn’t show much fearlessness when opening fire at the first sign of danger, which basically makes them no different than any trigger-happy cop who invokes “I was in fear for my life” to cop-splain away why they shot a Black suspect before they even had a chance to figure out what the hell was going on.
The bounty hunters claimed they announced themselves and it was Hutchins who fired first, but surveillance video posted to Instagram by legendary Houston Music Executive J Prince makes it look more like an ambush than an attempt to take a suspect into custody that simply went bad.
“They never gave him a chance, they never gave him a warning to know that they were any type of authority figure,” Prince said.
The video shows Hutchins walking to his car when two vehicles block him in. Moments later, two men jump out and run up to him and just moments after that, shots were fired. All of that unfolded in under a minute.
“It was a real ambush, all he had an opportunity to do was put his car in reverse, and you can clearly see gunshots entering the car,” Prince said in explaining that the bounty hunters never should have approached Hutchins like that late at night in an area where robberies and carjackings are common.
Think about it like this: Cops, and in this case, bounty hunters, can shoot first and ask questions later because it’s expected that they pull the trigger before risking their lives in even the slightest way by showing restraint. It’s an argument that works for them because they’re human and America readily identifies with officers or authority figures who react out of fear, especially if all they did was kill a Black person who, to America, looks like someone who probably did something to deserve it anyway.
So, let’s say, for the sake of argument, Hutchins shot first. Is he not also human? Is he not also allowed to fear for his life? There seems to be an expectation that Black people be perfect when dealing with authorities but said authorities, who are supposedly trained for these encounters, aren’t held to the same standard.
Christopher Powell, a private investigator with A-Mobile Bail Bonds who said he’s spent more than a decade tracking and taking down fugitives, told Fox 26 that he would have done things much differently if he were sent after Hutchins.
“I make sure we’re properly identifiable,” Powell said. “We have badges, we have our vest, they have patches on them that show what we are.”
“The area they’re in is Fifth Ward and obviously it’s late at night, just running up on someone in plain clothes, they don’t know what’s going on,” he continued. “They don’t know if you’re gang-affiliated, if you’re doing a robbery, if you’re about to steal their car.”
Meanwhile, Houston police said the investigation into Hutchins’ death is still ongoing and that findings of the investigation will be presented to the District Attorney’s Office, which will decide if the bounty hunters will be charged with crimes.