AUSTIN, Texas - Security camera video shows 30-year-old Eric Eugene Washington robbing customers with what appears to be a hand gun. The video from the Houston restaurant last week also shows a customer in a booth, pulling his gun and shooting Washington.
The deadly incident is an example of constitutional carry according to Emily Taylor, a 2nd Amendment attorney.
"So to have those citizens around, it's for your protection, not just their protection. You want as many as possible. And constitutional carry has done us a huge favor," said Taylor.
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Taylor is also the legislative advisor to Gun Owners of America-Texas. She is keeping a close watch on the Houston case, which is not as clear-cut as it looks.
"What we have is, although we found out later that the robber was using a toy gun, you don't know that at the moment. And Texas law doesn't say that you have to know that, you get to defend yourself based on the information you have from your eyes. Not perfect information. So you believe that you and others are being threatened with a deadly weapon," said Taylor.
Houston Police in a social media post stated homicide detectives questioned the 46-year-old restaurant customer. He is not being identified, because at this time, he is not charged with a crime. But the shooting will be reviewed by a grand jury.
"He’s not the monster that people picture him to be," said Corine Goodman, Washington's mother.
In an interview with FOX 26, Goodman noted there wasn't just one shot that killed her son. With the first shot Washington fell to the ground and the customer fired multiple shots as he approached, including what appears to be a final shot to the head.
"I want to know why didn't you stop? You abused him. He was dead already and that hurt. That hurts," said Goodman.
Questioning the self-defense claim doesn't surprise Taylor, but she told FOX 7 Austin it may not be a fair question considering the threatening situation everyone was in.
"It's possible that the grand jury find that last shot was too much. He was no longer a danger. And so self-defense is off the table. It's possible that they just say, look, we understand that from his shoes, he acted reasonably. Get in the stress and the adrenaline and everything that happened. It's also possible that the grand jury splits the baby and says, well, he really shouldn't have shot, but we're going to indict him for a little crime, in Texas we call abuse of a corpse. We think perhaps he was already dead and that last shot was wrong. We're going to charge you with the crime, but not murder," said Taylor.
Juan L. Guerra, Jr, the Houston attorney for the man who shot Washington, issued a statement to the media. Guerra said his client was in fear for his life and those in the restaurant. He also stated; "This event has been very traumatic. Taking a human life is something he does not take lightly and will burden him for the rest of his life."
Taylor is keeping a close watch on how the Houston case will factor into gun control debates that are expected during the new Texas Legislative Session.
"I think that what we're going to have is a tough pro-gun battle because the arguments on the other side are all going to be from, you know, of course, where you were just on the heels of that awful, tragic Uvalde school shooting. And I don't think that pro-gun arguments are going to have much sway this session. I think that we're going to be all on the defense. Not why guns are good, but why guns are necessarily bad when not in the hands of bad people," said Taylor.
About two dozen gun control bills have been filed for the current Texas Legislative Session. They include a bill to increase the age to purchase assault-style semi-automatic rifles to new regulations on ammunition and gun accessories. For gun owners who are worried about possible changes, Taylor offered this advice.
"Do not be deterred by the gun laws that are already on the books and by all the hundreds of anti-gun proposals this legislative session from caring..a lot of people get too intimidated. They believe that they're not going to be able to follow the law and they're too scared to try. You can't figure out what the law is. There are lots of wonderful resources out there to help you learn Texas law so that you can carry keep yourself and others safe" said Taylor.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan has indicated that some of the gun bills filed so far will at least get a hearing. He also told reporters this week that he doesn’t think there are enough votes to pass a major gun control bill.