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'It's better now than never' | City of Houston apologizes for police killing of Joe Campos Torres

It was his death and the light sentences for the officers who were convicted that led to the infamous Moody Riots a year later.

HOUSTON — It's a formal and public apology 44 years overdue.

The City of Houston is apologizing to the family of Joe Campos Torres who was brutally beaten and murdered by several Houston police officers.

It was his death and the light sentences for the officers who were convicted that led to the infamous Moody Riots a year later.

It’s been 44 years.

“He was in the water for three days," said Richard Molina, Torres' nephew.

Molina wasn’t even born yet, but he knows almost every detail of his uncle’s death.

“There was a disturbance in a local bar over in the east side of town," Molina said. "He had an altercation with two police officers. They ended up calling backup, six of them total.”

Molina says six officers arrested his uncle and then brutally beat him in a secluded spot downtown. Officers took Torres to jail but were turned away and told to take him to the hospital.

But they didn’t.

“They assaulted him before basically throwing him into the bayou to where he went missing for three days," Molina said.

Torres’s death and lack of justice sparked riots in Moody Park.

“That was actually the start of the dialogue of police reform," said Isidro Garza, Jr. with the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Wednesday, his nephews walked along the bayou where his body was found.

“No, nothing has ever happened. No apology or anything," nephew Johnny Torres said.

They say they’ve received an apology in private from the police chief anf mayor, but not everyone could be there, including Torres' mother.

“We’re trying to do this Sunday. We’ve invited our extended family. We’ve prepared our grandmother for it because this is mainly geared towards her," Molina said.

So now, more than 40 years later, they’re finally getting what for so long they’ve been denied.

“Just a simple acknowledgement of major wrongdoing at the hands of the Houston Police Department," Molina said.

The family says they hope this is just the beginning. They want their uncle’s story to be told, and they’re hoping a memorial and maybe even a mural will soon follow.

That public apology will happen Sunday from 1p.m. to 3 p.m. at the SER Center for Progress, 1710 Telephone Road.

Janelle Bludau on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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