Lowell Houser calmly called the police, identified himself as an off-duty Chicago police officer, and told the dispatcher that he had to shoot the man who just came after him. The man was Jose Nieves, a neighbor who was not found with a weapon, and the two were known to have issues with one another in the past. When prosecutors caught wind of that, they charged Houser with first-degree murder.
Now, another disgraced Chicago police officer will stand trial for abusing the public trust and tarnishing the badge. If convicted, Houser could face life in prison without parole.
Houser will claim that he was acting in self-defense and that the shooting was justified. He claims that Nieves threatened to shoot him and reached for his waistband.
Houser Requests Trial by Judge
The vast majority of criminal defendants would probably rather face a jury than a judge. However, police accused of wrongdoing have routinely opted to have their cases heard by a judge. The Houser trial will be no different. The stakes are very high.
A self-defense plea is an affirmative defense in which the defendant admits that he or she was the one who pulled the trigger. So the question of ‘if’ is already decided. What a judge (or a jury) must determine is whether or not the ‘why’ was justifiable. Houser, who is 60 years old, may not be convicted of first-degree murder if the judge believes that the officer believed his life was in danger, but that belief was unreasonable. If the judge believes that Houser both believed his life was in danger and that belief was unreasonable, he will be convicted. If the judge believes that Houser never believed his life was in danger, then he will be convicted of first-degree murder.
Houser Allowed Home with Ankle Bracelet
Unlike the vast majority of those who have been charged with murder, Houser has been allowed to go home wearing an ankle monitor. This is nearly unheard of in cases involving first-degree (or any degree) murder.
According to reports, Houser and Nieves both lived in the same apartment building. At some point, about a month prior to the shooting, Houser and Nieves had a very vocal, very public argument. This turned into an ongoing feud that was resolved a month later when police found Nieves dead.
Nieves was there helping a female friend unload boxes from her vehicle when Houser allegedly rolled up on him and asked the woman if she knew that Nieves “treated women badly.” The woman told him to take the issue up with Nieves if he had a problem and walked away. A neighbor then heard a dispute break out in which Houser and Nieves were yelling at one another. It was then that they heard shots ring out. Nieves’ sister has filed a civil action against Houser and the city claiming that the city knew that Houser and Nieves had an ongoing dispute and chose to protect Houser as opposed to Nieves.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of a serious crime in Chicago, then you need an attorney who understands the law, will not allow you to get railroaded by sloppy police work or a speculative prosecution, and will fight to ensure your rights are respected. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to set up an appointment.