Alto officer-involved shooting to be presented to a grand jury

ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Members of the Alto community addressed the city council this evening to try and see if there is anymore information available about the January officer-involved shooting.

Alto citizen, Herman Martin asked the council and Alto police chief, JJeremy Jackson what the status was of the Texas Rangers investigation into the death of James Griffin.

Paul Robins, a representative for the Texas Municipal Police Association representing the Alto Police Department told the council and community what he knew about the status of the case.

Robins said, "I did speak with the, communicated with the Texas Ranger today and he has submitted the case to the district attorney and it will be presented to the grand jury at 1:00 on March 25 is the indication that I got from the Texas Ranger."

Since the shooting there have been allegations within the Alto community that race was a factor and many Alto residents spoke to the council this evening about their experiences with the Alto Police Department.

The fatal shooting incident occurred on Jan. 23. According to DPS spokeswoman Jean Dark, Griffin, 48, of Alto, attempted to rob the Pick N Go convenience store located at 100 S. Smith confronted Griffin on Highway 69, where an exchange took place.

A clerk at the convenience store said Griffin started to leave the store with a pack of cigarettes that he hadn't purchased. When the clerk said, "Hey, man, what about the money," Griffin allegedly turned around, lifted up his shirt, and showed the clerk a long machete.

One witness at the scene, Emmanuel Milton, told the East Texas News he saw Smith shoot Griffin once and then several more times after he fell.

"I took off and ran up the street to let the police know that [Griffin] was off his meds, and that he was an access patient," Milton said.

Immediately after the shooting, it was a tense situation in Alto. In addition to the Alto Police Department, deputies from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, and DPS troopers were on the scene as well as hundreds of people gathered at the scene, some of them yelling angrily at authorities.

At an Alto City Council meeting in February, Flores told city officials that he collected background information, spoke to witnesses, and reviewed the scene of the fatal shooting incident. He said before he can conclude the investigation, he has to wait for the final autopsy and toxicology reports to be released.

During the meeting, Jackson responded to Alto residents' allegations that they had seen Smith in uniform and riding along with a sergeant with the police department by saying that the officer was brought back into the office to help with administrative duties.

Jackson said he didn't realize Smith coming back to work would cause such a disturbance.  "Since then, he has been placed back on administrative leave, and he will not be back even in the office, he said.

Griffith's niece, Angela Jefferson, was one of several people who spoke at the city council meeting. She told city officials that she thought the shooting was excessive.

"It's awful when you see your family member lying there on the ground," Jefferson said. "I was there before the first responders arrived."

"From the Texas Ranger's investigation, I hope they'll see it for what it was," Herman Martin said at the meeting. "It was a murder. That's what I hope they find in their investigation."

Copyright 2013 KTRE. All rights reserved.