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College Station Police Chief addresses officer-involved shootings

There were two separate shootings in May and June.
Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 7:19 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - College Station Police Chief Billy Couch spoke with KBTX Tuesday after a Brazos County Grand Jury found no criminal conduct in two officer-involved shootings this summer.

The first shooting happened in May. Roderick Merchant, 21, was killed by police after threatening people and shooting a rifle in the parking lot of an apartment complex.

A month later, police were called to the scene of a shooting. Albert Finnie, 22, was killed at Bee Creek Park when he refused to drop his weapon and started waving his gun around.

“These incidents were unique that the officers really had no choice on the outcomes. I think it led to the lethal encounter based on the circumstance,” said Couch.

Chief Couch says it’s an outcome they work to avoid.

“Oftentimes, our biggest key to reducing force is the way we communicate in an incident. It doesn’t mean the force is always going to be avoidable,” said Couch.

These investigations were handed over to Bryan Police and the Texas Rangers. Couch says they also review their own policies when incidents occur.

“We do always look at our training, our use of force, individually, each time, to see that we’ve conducted ourselves in a professional manner. With community expectations in mind, there has been an emphasis on de-escalation training and communication,” said Couch.

Officer Justin Rodriguez, a recruit in field training, and Officer Genaro Trevino, a two-year veteran were put on modified assignments after the May shooting. Sergeant Andrew Murph, a 27 year veteran with the department, was put on modified assignments after the June shooting.

The three officers will return to regular duty.

“I don’t discount the fact that we have families of the deceased in the community who are still grieving that loss, so I do hope those families are doing okay,” said Couch.

KBTX has submit a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request asking for all dashboard and body came videos from the two incidents. College Station Police say based on department policy, they won’t be releasing the videos.

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