As we have faithfully reported on numerous occasions, a man named Marvin Louis Guy sits in a jail cell in Killeen, Texas, awaiting trial for killing a police officer. Arguably, however, the police officer, Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie, a beloved member of the Killeen Police Department, would still be alive had the KPD not chosen to serve a “no-knock” search warrant at Mr. Guy’s apartment home.
The first thing Guy likely heard, at 5:30 am, on May 9th, 2014, was the breaking of his bedroom window glass. Possibly startled by the fact someone was breaking into his home, and hearing someone attempting to break down his front door, Guy started shooting, striking three of the officers, and killing Dinwiddie with one fatal shot to the face. While Guy has never denied he did fire his weapon, he’s repeatedly maintained he did not know he was firing at police.
The cops were searching for drugs. Finding none, they took Guy into custody and charged him with capital murder in Dinwiddie’s death. With one police officer dead, and a would-be innocent man now charged with his murder, the community was understandably shaken, and so was the reporter covering the story.
Clay Thorp, reporter for the Killeen Daily Herald, was the newspaper’s crime reporter, and he’d been in the business for many years. Thorp has long since moved on from the KDH, and Killeen, TX, but hasn’t been able to shake off the unsettling concerns he’s had surrounding the treatment of Mr. Guy. The Free Thought Project had a chance to catch up with Thorp, get a better understanding of the impact Dinwiddie’s death had on the community, and to further explain the complexities of Guy’s case.
When Thorp saw the memorial erected in Dinwiddie’s honor, he was moved. The KDH reporter said, “I felt sorrow for his family.
“There’s been a lot of speculation that Dinwiddie may have been killed by friendly fire,” Thorp explains. “There were a lot of bullets flying through Guy’s home that night. It is possible he was killed by friendly fire,” he said and addressed the time that has passed, “It’s been almost three years.”
Even if Dinwiddie wasn’t killed in a hail of friendly fire, he admits it’s also very possible Guy was the one who killed the beloved officer. “He (may have) been murdered on purpose by an alleged drug dealer…and the possibility that he wasn’t murdered by Guy is just heartbreaking for me,” he said lamenting the entire incident.
Thorp said the Dinwiddie family will go through another troubled valley in life as Guy’s capital murder trial approaches. “This trial is going to be the hardest thing they’ve gone through in their lives. This is not going to be easy for Dinwiddie’s family and they know it. My heart goes out to them. It really does,” he said.
The Dinwiddies are upstanding citizens, according to Thorp. “I’ve met his (Chuck’s) family. They’re wonderful, wonderful people who are very giving in the community and do a lot of outreach work because of Dinwiddie’s death. But this trial is not going to be easy. I can only imagine the kind of hurt and heartbreak they potentially will suffer because of this upcoming trial,” the news reporter said.
But even with the compassion Thorp feels for the fallen officer’s family, he raises serious concerns over Guy’s case. The Castle Doctrine states the citizenry has a right to defend themselves, their homes, and even their property, if the citizenry feels at all threatened, and is allowed to use deadly force. According to Thorp, that’s precisely what Guy maintains. He should know. He’s interviewed Guy on at least a dozen occasions.
In fifteen minute intervals, which often included videotaping the alleged cop killer, Thorp says Guy thinks a lot about his own case, “he (Guy) would talk about wanting justice for Dinwiddie’s family,” indicating he too hopes the Dinwiddie family receives the justice they are seeking, conveying the compassion he has for them, along with remorse at the thought he may have taken the officer’s life. But Thorp says he’s still a bit skeptical of Guy’s claims his lawyers were corrupt, that the police were out to get him, and that he may not have been the one who killed Dinwiddie. He remarked, “I was never 100 percent convinced,” adding his career in journalism did not afford him the luxury of taking sides. He had to remain objective, but he did find it unusual that the lawyer assigned to his case, reportedly a lawyer named “Mr. White”, was not certified to work with clients in murder trials. “Just the fact he wasn’t certified to work with capital murder clients was suspect to me,” Thorp confessed. Guy fired those first few lawyers because “the process frustrated Marvin.” He further explained, “Marvin felt like the process wasn’t fair.”
The veteran crime reporter has some very strong feelings, however, about Guy’s right to a speedy trial. He said, “he’s been in jail for almost 3 years and still no trial. That’s wrong.” And he wants to know why. “What’s going on…who’s failing, is it the prosecution or the defense and why?”
Believe it or not, Guy’s case is not the only “no-knock” search warrant execution which resulted in the killing of a police officer. A similar incident took place in December of 2013, in Somerville, Texas. “Burleson County Sgt. Adam Sowders, led a team in a no-knock marijuana raid on Henry Goedrich Magee’s home. Magee, who was home with his pregnant girlfriend, believed that someone was breaking in. Concerned for his girlfriend and unborn child’s safety, Magee opened fire and killed Sowders. In February (2014), all charges against Magee were dropped when a Texas grand jury refused to indict, based on the belief that he feared for his safety and that this was a reasonable act of self-defense.” Magee is White. Guy is Black. And we wanted to know how much race is playing a factor in Guy’s case.
After asking Thorp about race, the crime reporter commented, “You know there were instances, other instances, which occurred in Bell county and surrounding counties that would lead me to believe that it is possible that race is involved in this and it plays some part in the public’s want for justice against Marvin Guy who’s a black guy, and who has a previous history of being a bad guy.”
Remaining neutral, Thorp elaborated, “In my job as a reporter, I always tried to keep away from that subject, but it always came back to that.” Guy himself reportedly has no doubt the reason why he’s still in jail facing capital murder charges and a lifetime on death row is because he’s Black, not because he may have killed Officer Dinwiddie.
Thorp said as much, “Marvin is convinced that it is because he’s black…It always came back to race with Marvin,” who would often quote the fabled meaning of Killeen’s name in the Black community, “Kill Each and Every Nigger.” The former Killeen reporter explained that where Guy lived was more likened to a war zone than an American dream type of neighborhood. “He lives in the Killeen ghetto, a small-time war zone, where 15-16 people died in just a few months (that year)…It was all gang related violence…a lot of those murders are still unsolved and they’ve been unsolved for a while…It was a violent area where he lived…It seems to me he had reason to be protective. He lived in a rough area you know.” The journalist’s opinion of Guy’s community gave him justification enough for being afraid of someone trying to break into his home. Felon or not, Guy felt compelled to defend his family, in an area of town where being on the defensive was second nature.
After earning Guy’s trust, one day, the one-time bank robber turned cook, presented Thorp with a gift, his entire case file, with the condition that Thorp would take a close look at it. Sure enough, the file was complete with police reports, autopsy notes, and other relevant information that is now under gag order by Judge Gant, not to be released by the defense or prosecution teams. What those groups may not know is that Thorp, also, has a copy of the case file, and has shared some of its contents with The Free Thought Project.
We asked how it came into his possession. “So his case file is essentially, it looked to be a conglomeration of documents of which he and his family member, they were able to make several FOIA requests…they compiled that and Marvin was able to get ahold of a lot the paperwork from his attorney the time.” Thorp said “the juicy parts”, also are the most controversial ones, those statements given by the police officers who were involved in the deadly event.
“When I read through them there were a couple of things that jumped out at me that were kind of unjust. When the bullets started flying through his home and Marvin ran for the back door, the police were there,” he explained. Guy was taken into custody, and when one of the officers learned Dinwiddie had been shot, he admittedly forced his service pistol down Marvin’s throat. “I think the exact wording in the police report was, ‘I did enter his mouth with my pistol,’ I think that’s illegal,” the reporter emphatically stated.
Actually, the police report is much more graphic and detailed. Officer Juan E Obregon Jr., per the document The Free Thought Project received, recalled his involvement in the arrest of Marvin Guy. He wrote,
I then heard someone yell out, “IT’S CHUCK FUCK IT’S CHUCK!” At that moment I became very enraged with anger and the suspect began to speak so I struck him with my pistol in the mouth area. I did not strike him hard enough to cause him any visible marks however; I did enter his mouth with my pistol. I noticed the male spit up so I quickly removed my weapon and then placed it to the side of the suspects head and yelled out “YOU MOTHER FUCKER WHO SHOT? DID YOU SHOOT? WHO ELSE IS INSIDE.” Next, l was being pulled off the suspect by other SWAT operators and told to watch the corner of the C/D side, the back door.
It’s unclear, from the records, at which point Guy was handcuffed, but it is clear that he was not treated as someone who was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
It’s been said Guy’s girlfriend was also roughed up immediately following the incident. It was Thorp’s understanding she was also injured. “She suffered some injuries. I wasn’t able to confirm what they were or to even find her…she did go to the hospital for unknown injuries.”
Asked if he was satisfied with the coverage Guy’s case received by the press, Thorp responded, “You know I was (satisfied) up until we got the case file and it had all the police statements and which I thought that we should publish and that we should report on and it had all the evidence…history…the evidence list of everything that was collected,” he said. “So you see why I was so upset about not publishing what was in this file that Marvin gave us. I was basically told to sit on it. I wasn’t given the time to investigate it. It was put on the back burner. And when I pushed it, I was shot down. I was told we can’t publish it because ‘it would sway a potential jury in his trial.’”
Also important to reveal to the general public were the statements by the officers on duty at the time of the shooting. “I think that what is in this file is…you know we have police statements…we have an officer admitting to having placed a pistol inside Guy’s mouth…that’s assault. Was he ever charged with assault? I was never given the time to find that out,” he said implying there’s a double standard at work for police.
The veteran crime reporter was admittedly miffed that his employer, the local newspaper, wouldn’t run the story. He said, “There were handwritten notes on those reports (ballistics and autopsy)…there were hand drawings of the home and that kind of thing…shell casings, bullet fragments that they pulled out of the parking lot that were alleged to have come from Guy’s gun…but of course no drugs, which was the original reason they were there.”
The subject matter of Guy’s case file warranted publication, according to Thorp, and the fact that no drugs were found in Guy’s home, the reason why the police were even there to begin with, made Guy’s case more important to get right in the court of public opinion.
After being told to sit on the case, and feeling angered the newspaper chose not to reveal the public record of the events to the public, Thorp said it only got worse, personally, from there. Soon, he says, he himself became a targeted individual by the police. At subsequent crime scenes, the KPD disallowed him from interviewing witnesses, and at press conferences wouldn’t take any of his questions. He believes he was blackballed, run out of town for publishing articles related to Guy’s case, and his coverage of another SWAT incident.
“I was pushed out over this. The police department knew that I had the file…The police department basically went to my publisher, not too long after this. I believe that it was this, the file issue, and coupled with the fact that I wasn’t allowed to interview witnesses after police shootings. I basically threatened civil action after they disallowed me from interviewing beckoning witnesses,” he added.
He explained the measures he had to go through to get a story. “There was a period for a few months where I was writing questions and sending them to another reporter because the police and the city wouldn’t answer my questions on any case I was working on. I was basically blacklisted…and they tried to arrest me for talking to neighbors before the detectives had a chance to. It’s not my fault they don’t want to talk to you (the police). It’s not my fault the general public wanted to be interviewed. It was a series of events that led to the city blacklisting me and the paper capitulated.”
The harassment by the KPD eventually came to a head when, as Thorp states, “The city manager came to our office and requested that I be removed from the beat. And that’s what they did. They capitulated, and caved under a relatively mild amount of pressure.”
He admitted he almost resigned over the Marvin Guy case file not being published, “because I felt that our readers and the public needed to know and we needed to work to authenticate those attorney’s notes. We needed to do that. We couldn’t just ignore what was in that file and they did. They absolutely completely ignored it. There it was, journalism gold. What more do you want? We have the documents we have the statements and you (KDH) don’t want to report on any of it? Why? It blows my mind to this day why they haven’t done anything with it. I don’t want to think they’re in on some kind of corruption. I just think the publisher caved into city pressure way too easily. I was told they were prioritizing their relationship with the city and the police department. They didn’t want to threaten their relationship with the police department. That’s troubling to me. The fact they’ve sat on it for this long is inexcusable. What they have in their possession…the people deserve to know. I don’t think a lot of that should wait until the trial.”
Thorp is now calling on the judge, the prosecution, and the defense, to give Guy his due process. The crime reporter admits, “what I have is Marvin’s side of the story…but I want to see what the prosecution has. If the prosecution is trying to get ballistics tested…let’s see it. Let’s get a move on with this…”
The former Killeen, TX news reporter has a lot of respect for all parties involved. He explained, “I think there are a lot of good people, defense attorneys, and prosecutors that fight every day to serve the State of Texas with their great work.”
But, he admits to also being bothered with the fact the Castle Doctrine hasn’t been applied to Guy’s case, “The question that still remains in my mind, ‘Why wasn’t protection under the self-defense law (Castle Doctrine) not been extended to Marvin Guy?’” Thorp wants to know, “Why does he deserve to be tried for capital murder?”
The seasoned reporter explains the issue is not simply a cut and dry, black and white, open and shut case against Guy, and he explained there’s a lot of pressure on the officials to get it right. “It’s possible Judge Gant is under pressure from the community or the police department to get a conviction against Guy.” Thorp noted that judges are elected officials, with respect to Judge Gant he stated, “He’s very respected in the community, and it’s his time to show the community and Bell County we can ensure a fair trial in cases like these and we can ensure all the evidence comes out in a way that’s fair to Marvin and Dinwiddie’s family.”
Thorp stops far short of declaring Guy is innocent or that the police are culpable. He reveals his caution saying, “I’m going to reserve judgement on that question when I see what comes out at the trial because I’m going to compare evidence in the trial with what I have and go from there.”
The former Killeen Daily Herald crime reporter said, “I think that it’s important that, again, your readers understand there are some great people that work in Bell County and a lot of them are on the criminal defense side. They represent a lot of troubled kids who get into trouble…in a fair and responsible manner. The same can be said of the prosecution.”
But Thorp admits there’s an atmosphere of revenge in the air, “You can’t deny there are some radical elements that exist in every community…I think that the police community in Bell County, especially, want to see Marvin fry, want to see him killed. And I think there are some elements in the community that want to see Marvin put to death. I just don’t know who’s going to win out. Is it going to be Garcia (Guy’s lawyer) who makes sure Marvin gets a fair trial or is it going to be the prosecution influenced by the police community?”
Thorp feels that by coming forward now and blowing the whistle, so to speak, he’s able to finish what he was never able to do at the KDH. He explained it this way, “You know I never got to finish what I started there and that alone made me wonder what more I could have found. “(With Guy) sitting in jail for this long without a trial…that in itself is an injustice…no-knock warrants are an injustice…You (the police) gotta announce who you are…if you have a signed search warrant…this is Texas and this is America. This is something that is protected by law to act in defense of home and property when we feel like our home and property are threatened. Officers have a right by law to defend themselves when they feel threatened. Why was that same right not extended to Marvin?” he asks.
Thorp explained that after Dinwiddie’s death, the KPD changed their policy, and no longer perform “no-knock” search warrants, but, he says, “that doesn’t remove a fact that an officer died and a man is sitting in jail right now who really may have been acting in self-defense.”
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