Murder of Joe Campos Torres

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Joe Campos Torres

Jose Campos Torres (December 20, 1953 – May 5, 1977) was a 23-year-old American Vietnam veteran who was beaten by several Houston police officers and subsequently died. His death sparked protests and the outcome of the trial was met with rioting.


Torres had been arrested for disorderly conduct at a bar in Houston's predominantly Hispanic East End neighborhood. The six police officers who responded took Torres to a spot called “The Hole” next to the Buffalo Bayou and beat him. The officers then took Torres to the city jail, who refused to process him due to his injuries. They were ordered to take him to Ben Taub General Hospital, but instead of doing so, the officers brought him back to the banks of Buffalo Bayou and pushed him into the water. Torres’s body was found two days later. [1]

Trial and aftermath[edit]

Officers Terry Denson and Steven Orlando were tried on state murder charges. They were convicted of negligent homicide and received one year of probation and a $1 fine.[2] Denson, Orlando and Officer Joseph Janish were later convicted of federal civil rights violations in 1978, and served nine months in prison.

Those sentences sparked riots in Moody Park in Houston's Near Northside neighborhood, on the 1st anniversary of his death, in which protesters fired on police, EMS, and Fire fighters. Police were there day and night battling the protesters and were authorized to use deadly force against those firing upon first responders. [3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nation: End of the Rope". Time Magazine. Apr 17, 1978. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  2. ^ Williams, Jack (May 8, 2008). "Echos of Moody Park: 30 years later". KUHF-FM NPR. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  3. ^ Remembering the Moody Park riot